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Greek Mythology - 2 

Heroes and Creatures 

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Greek hero cult 1 

Heracles 6 

Theseus 21 

Odysseus 30 

Perseus 39 

Jason 46 

Oedipus 5 1 

Orpheus 58 

Asclepius 68 

Erechtheus 72 

Pelops 74 

Amphiaraus 78 

Akademos 79 

Alexander the Great 80 

Amazons 114 

Amazons 114 

Antiope 125 

Otrera 126 

Penthesilea 127 

Thalestris 130 

The Twelve Labours of Heracles 132 

Labours of Hercules 132 

Nemean lion 142 

Lernaean Hydra 144 

Ceryneian Hind 147 

Erymanthian Boar 149 

Augeas 151 

Stymphalian birds 153 

Cretan Bull 154 

Mares of Diomedes 156 

Hippolyta 157 

Geryon 159 

Hesperides 161 

Cerberus 166 

The Argonauts 170 

Argonauts 170 

Acastus 175 

Admetus 176 

Aethalides 177 

Amphion 178 

Ancaeus 178 

Atalanta 179 

Autolycus 183 

Bellerophon 185 

B oreads 190 

Cadmus 191 

Castor and Pollux 197 

Erginus 206 

Euphemus 207 

Euryalus 209 

Hylas 210 

Idas 212 

Idmon 212 

Iolaus 213 

Laertes 215 

Laocoon 216 

Lynceus 219 

Medea 219 

Meleager 227 

Mopsus 229 

Oileus 232 

Hephaestus 233 

Peleus 240 

Philoctetes 243 

Phrontis 247 

Poeas 248 

Talaus 248 

Telamon 249 

Tiphys 251 

The Trojan War and its Heroes 252 

Trojan War 252 

Achilles 275 

Patroclus 288 

Hector 291 

Paris 298 

Menelaus 302 

Agamemnon 305 

Ajax 309 

Aj ax the Lesser 312 

Nestor 315 

Diomedes 317 

Teucer 333 

Creatures Families 335 

Dragons in Greek mythology 335 

Gorgon 337 

Anemoi 342 

Centaur 347 

Cyclops 353 

Gigantes 357 

Hecatonchires 360 

Harpy 363 

Satyr 366 

Siren 371 

Unique Creatures 377 

Python 377 

Ladon 379 

Typhon 380 

Medusa 384 

Minotaur 391 

Calydonian Boar 397 

Chimera 402 

Pegasus 406 


Article Sources and Contributors 410 

Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors 426 

Article Licenses 

License 435 


Greek hero cult 

Hero cults were one of the most distinctive features of 
ancient Greek religion. In Homeric Greek, "hero" (heroes, 
f|pa><;) refers to a man who was fighting on either side during 
the Trojan War. By the historical period, however, the word 
came to mean specifically a dead man, venerated and 
propitiated at his tomb or at a designated shrine, because his 
fame during life or unusual manner of death gave him power 
to support and protect the living. A hero was more than 
human but less than a god, and various kinds of supernatural 
figures came to be assimilated to the class of heroes; the 
distinction between a hero and a god was less than certain, 
especially in the case of Heracles, the most prominent, but a 

typical hero 


The grand ruins and tumuli remaining from the Bronze Age 
gave the pre-literate Greeks of the 10th and 9th centuries BC 
a sense of a grand and vanished age that was reflected in the 
oral epic tradition, which would be crystallized in the Iliad. 
Copious renewed offerings begin to be represented, after a 
hiatus, at sites like Lefkandi, even though the names of the 
grandly buried dead were hardly remembered. "Stories began 
to be told to individuate the persons who were now believed 
to be buried in these old and imposing sites," observes Robin 

Ruins of a hero-shrine or heroon at Sagalassos, Turkey 

Lane Fox 


Nature of hero cult 


Greek hero-cults were distinct from the clan-based ancestor worship from which they developed, in that as the 
polis evolved, they became a civic rather than familial affair, and in many cases none of the worshipers traced their 
descent back to the hero any longer: no shrine to a hero can be traced unbroken from Mycenaean times. Whereas the 
ancestor was purely local, Lewis Farnell observed, the hero might be tended in more than one locality, and he 
deduced that hero-cult was more deeply influenced from the epic tradition, that "suggested many a name to forgotten 
graves", and provided even Dorians a connection to Mycenaean heroes, according to J.N. Coldstream. 
"Coldstream believed the currency of epic would account for votives in Dorian areas, where an alien, immigrant 
population might otherwise be expected to show no particular reverence for Mycenaean predecessors". Large 
Mycenaean tholos tombs that betokened a grander past, were often the site of hero-cults. Not all heroes were even 
known by names. 

Greek hero cult 

Aside from the epic tradition, which featured the heroes alive 

and in action rather than as objects of cultus, the earliest 

written reference to hero-cult is attributed to Dracon, the 

Athenian lawgiver of the late seventh century BC, who 

prescribed that gods and local heroes should both be 

honoured according to ancestral custom. The custom, then, 

was already established, and the multiplicity of local 

heroes. The written sources emphasise the importance of 

heroes' tombs and the temenos or sanctuary, where chthonic 

rites appeased their spirits and induced them to continue to 

favour the people who looked to them as founders, of whom 

founding myths were related. In the hero's restricted and 

local scope he "retained the limited and partisan interests of 

his mortal life. He would help those who lived in the vicinity 

of his tomb or who belonged to the tribe of which he himself was the founder," observes Robert Parker 

reservation that Heracles, with his pan-Hellenic scope was again the exception. 

Cult of Oedipus on a Lucanian amphora, ca. 380-70 BC 
(Louvre, CA 308) 


with the 

James Whitley interpreted the final stage, in which hero-cult was co-opted by the city-state as a political gesture, in 
the archaic aristocratic tumulus surrounded by stelae, erected by Athens to the cremated citizen-heroes of Marathon 
(490 BC), to whom chthonic cult was dedicated, as the offering trenches indicate. On the other hand Greek heroes 
were distinct from the Roman cult of dead emperors, because the hero was not thought of as having ascended to 
Olympus or become a god: he was beneath the earth, and his power purely local. For this reason hero cults were 
chthonic in nature, and their rituals more closely resembled those for Hecate and Persephone than those for Zeus and 
Apollo: libations in the dark hours, sacrifices that were not shared by the living. 

The two exceptions to the above were Heracles and Asclepius, who might be honored as either heroes or gods, with 
chthonic libation or with burnt sacrifice. Heroes in cult behaved very differently from heroes in myth. They might 
appear indifferently as men or as snakes, and they seldom appeared unless angered. A Pythagorean saying advises 
not to eat food that has fallen on the floor, because "it belongs to the heroes". Heroes if ignored or left unappeased 
could turn malicious: in a fragmentary play by Aristophanes, a chorus of anonymous heroes describe themselves as 
senders of lice, fever and boils. 

Some of the earliest (eighth century BC) hero (and heroine) cults well attested by archaeological evidence in 
mainland Greece include shrines in Laconia to Helen and Menelaus (the Menelaion at Therapne near Sparta) and one 
to Agamemnon together with Cassandra at Mycenae, or Alexandra at Amyklai, perhaps a shrine to Odysseus in Polis 

[121 [131 

Bay, Ithaca. Little is known of the cult of Erechtheus on the Acropolis, Athens. The cult of Pelops at Olympia 
dates from the Archaic period. 

Heroes and heroines 

Hero cults were offered most prominently to men, though in practice the experience of the votary was of propitiating 
a cluster of family figures, which included women, the wife of a hero-husband, mother of a hero-son (Alcmene and 


Semele), daughter of a hero-father. As Moses I. Finley observed of the world of Odysseus, which he reads as a 
nostalgic eighth-century rendering of traditions from the culture of Dark Age Greece, 

Penelope became a moral heroine for later generations, the embodiment of goodness and chastity, to be 
contrasted with the faithless, murdering Clytaemnestra, Agamemnon's wife; but 'hero' has no feminine 
gender in the age of heroes. 

Where local cult venerated figures such as the sacrificial virgin Iphigeneia, an archaic local nymphe has been reduced 
to a mortal figure of legend. Other isolated female figures represented priestess-initiators of a local cult. 

Greek hero cult 

Iconographic and epigraphal evidence marshalled by Jennifer Lynn Larson combine to depict heroines as similar in 
kind to heroes, but in androcentric Greek culture, typically of lesser stature. 

Types of hero cult 


James Whitley distinguished four, perhaps five, 
essential types of hero cult: 

n 8i 
Oikist cults of founders. Such cults arose in 

colonies in the Hellenic world in Magna Graecia 

and Sicily at the grave of the founder, the oikos. In 

the case of cults at the tombs of the recently 

heroised, it must be assumed that the identity of the 

occupant of the tomb was unequivically known. 

Thucydides (V.ll.l) gives the example of Brasidas 

at Amphipolis. Battus of Cyrene might also be 

mentioned. "Such historical examples," Whitley 

warns, "have clearly colored the interpretation of 

certain tomb cults in the Archaic period." Such 

Archaic sites as the "heroon" at Lefkandi and that 

close to the West Gate at Eretria cannot be 

Offerings to a deified hero and another deity, depicted on a Greek marble 
relief ca. 300 BC 

distinguished by archaeological methods from family observances at tombs (tomb cults) and the cult of ancestors. 

Cults to named heroes. A number of cult sites known in Classical times were dedicated to known heroes in the 
Greek and modern senses, especially of the Iliad and other episodes of the Epic Cycle. Whitley makes two points 
here, first that the earliest heria associate the male hero with earlier and stronger female presences, and second, that 
figures such as Odysseus, Agamemnon and Menelaus all have strong local connections. The cults of Oedipus at 
Athens and Pelops at Olympia. 

Cults to local heroes. Such local figures do not figure among the Panhellenic figures of epic. Examples would be 
Akademos and Erechtheus at Athens. 

Cults at Bronze Age tombs. These are represented archaeologically by Iron Age deposits in Mycenaean tombs, not 
easily interpreted. Because of the gap in time between the Bronze Age collapse and the earliest votive objects, 
continuity appears to be broken. A sherd from above the Grave Circle at Mycenae is simply inscribed "to the 
hero", and Whitley suggests that the unnamed race of the Silver Age might have been invoked. In Attica, such 
cults are those associated with tholos tombs at Thorikos and Menidhi. 

Oracular hero cults. Whitley does not address this group of local cults where an oracle developed, as in the case of 
Amphiaraus, who was swallowed up by a gaping crack in the earth. Minor cults accrued to some figures who died 
violent or unusual deaths, as in the case of the dead from the Battle of Marathon, and those struck by lightning, as in 
several attested cases in Magna Graecia. 

Heroes, politics, and gods 

Hero cults could be of the utmost political importance. When Cleisthenes divided the Athenians into new demes for 
voting, he consulted Delphi on what heroes he should name each division after. According to Herodotus, the 
Spartans attributed their conquest of Arcadia to their theft of the bones of Orestes from the Arcadian town of Tegea. 
Heroes in myth often had close but conflicted relationships with the gods. Thus Heracles's name means "the glory of 
Hera", even though he was tormented all his life by the queen of the gods. This was even truer in their cult 
appearances. Perhaps the most striking example is the Athenian king Erechtheus, whom Poseidon killed for choosing 
Athena over him as the city's patron god. When the Athenians worshiped Erechtheus on the Acropolis, they invoked 

Greek hero cult 

him as Poseidon Erechtheus. 

List of heroes 

Greek deities 

Primordial deities 
Titans and Olympian deities 

Aquatic deities 
Personified concepts 

Other deities 
Chthonic deities 











Achilles at Leuce 




Alexander the Great at Alexandria 




Battus at Cyrene 

Erechtheus at Athens 



Homer, venerated at Alexandria by Ptolemy IV Philopator 




Oedipus at Athens 

Orion at Boeotia 



Pelops at Olympia 


Philippus of Croton 




Greek hero cult 


• Carla Antonaccio, An Archaeology of Ancestors: Tomb and Hero Cult in Ancient Greece, 1994 

• Lewis R. Farnell, Greek Hero-Cults and Ideas of Immortality (Oxford), 1921. 

• E. Kearns, The Heroes of Attica (BICS supplement 57) London, 1989. 

• Karl Kerenyi, The Heroes of the Greeks, 1959 

• Gregory Nagy, The Best of the Achaeans: Concepts of the Hero in Archaic Greek Poetry, 1979. 

• Erwin Rohde, Psyche: The Cult of Souls and Belief in Immortality among the Greeks, 1925 

• Jennifer Larson, Greek Heroine Cults (1995) 

• Jennifer Larson, Ancient Greek Cults: A Guide (2007). Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-32448-9 

• D. Lyons, Gender and Immortality: Heroines in Ancient Greek Myth and Cult (1996) 

• D. Boehringer, Heroenkulte in Griechenland von der geometrischen bis zur klassischen Zeit: Attika, Argolis, 
Messenien (2001) 

• G. Ekroth, The Sacrificial Rituals of Greek Hero-Cults (2002) 

• B. Currie, Pindar and the Cult of Heroes (2005) 


[I] Robert Parker, in John Boardman, Jasper Griffin and Oswyn Murray, eds. Greece and the Hellenistic World (Oxford 1988) "Greek religion" p. 
288; Parker gives a concise and clear synopsis of hero. 

[2] Carla Maria Antonaccio, An Archaeology of Ancestors: Tomb Cult and Hero Cult in Early Greece (1995) and "Lefkandi and Homer", in O. 

Anderson and M. Dickie, Homer's World: Fiction, Tradition and Reality (1995); I. Morris, "Tomb cult and the Greek Renaissance" Antiquity 

[3] Fox, Travelling Heroes in the Epic Age of Homer, 2008:34. 
[4] "The cult of Heroes everywhere has the same features as the cult of ancestors... the remains of a true cult of ancestors provided the model and 

were the real starting-point for the later belief and cult of Heroes." Rohde 1925:125. 
[5] Farnell 1921 :283f. 

[6] Coldstream, "Hero cults in the age of Homer", Journal of the Hellenic Society 96 (1976:8-17). 
[7] Antonaccio 1994:395. 

[8] R. K. Hack, "Homer and the cult of heroes", Transactions of the American Philological Association 60 (1929::57-74). 
[9] Carla M. Antonaccio, "Contesting the Past: Hero Cult, Tomb Cult, and Epic in Early Greece" American Journal of Archaeology 98.3 (July 

[10] Parker 1988:250. 

[II] Inscriptions reveal that offerings were still being made to the heroised dead in the first century BC; the tumulus is discussed in Whitley, 
"The Monuments that stood before Marathon: Tomb cult and hero cult in Archaic Attica" American Journal of Archaeology 98.2 (April 

[12] Based on a single graffito from the Hellenistic period. 

[13] Antonaccio 1994:398f, note 50, gives bibliographies of the archaeological findings. 

[14] Jennifer Lynn Larson, Greek Heroine Cults (University of Wisconsin Press) 1995, has marshalled the evidences. 

[15] Finley, The World of Odysseus (1954; rev. ed. 1978), p.32f. 

[16] "Heroine cults fit well into our modern view of ancient Greek culture as firmly androcentric, though not as androcentric as some would have 

had us believe" (Larson 1995:144. 

[17] Whitleyl994:220ff. 

[18] A general study of oikist cults is I. Malkin, Religion and Colonization in Ancient Greece (Leiden) 1987:189-266. 

[19] Heinrich Schliemann, Mycenae, adduced by Whitley 1994:222 and note 44 




One of the most famous depictions of Heracles, originally by Lysippos (Marble, Roman copy called Hercules Farnese, 216 CE) 


Gatekeeper of Olympus 
God of heroes, sports, athletes, and divine protector of mankind 

Mount Olympus 



Roman equivalent 

Club, Nemean Lion, Bow and Arrows 

Zeus and Alcmene 

Alexiares and Anicetus, Telephus, Hyllus, Tlepolemus 


Heracles ( 4 /'hereklilz/ HERR-e-kleez; Ancient Greek: 'HpaKXfJQ, Herakles, from Hera, "Hera", and kleos, 
"glory" ), born Alcaeus (AXk(xlo<;, Alkaios) or Alcides (AXkel6i]<;, Alkeides), was a divine hero in Greek 
mythology, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon and great-grandson (and half-brother) of 
Perseus. He was the greatest of the Greek heroes, a paragon of masculinity, the ancestor of royal clans who claimed 
to be Heracleidae (UpaKXELSou) and a champion of the Olympian order against chthonic monsters. In Rome and the 
modern West, he is known as Hercules, with whom the later Roman Emperors, in particular Commodus and 
Maximian, often identified themselves. The Romans adopted the Greek version of his life and works essentially 
unchanged, but added anecdotal detail of their own, some of it linking the hero with the geography of the Central 
Mediterranean. Details of his cult were adapted to Rome as well. 

Extraordinary strength, courage, ingenuity, and sexual prowess with both males and females were among his 
characteristic attributes. Although he was not as clever as the likes of Odysseus or Nestor, Heracles used his wits on 
several occasions when his strength did not suffice, such as when laboring for the king Augeas of Elis, wrestling the 
giant Antaeus, or tricking Atlas into taking the sky back onto his shoulders. Together with Hermes he was the patron 
and protector of gymnasia and palaestrae. His iconographic attributes are the lion skin and the club. These qualities 
did not prevent him from being regarded as a playful figure who used games to relax from his labors and played a 
great deal with children. By conquering dangerous archaic forces he is said to have "made the world safe for 


mankind" and to be its benefactor. Heracles was an extremely passionate and emotional individual, capable of 
doing both great deeds for his friends (such as wrestling with Thanatos on behalf of Prince Admetus, who had 
regaled Heracles with his hospitality, or restoring his friend Tyndareus to the throne of Sparta after he was 
overthrown) and being a terrible enemy who would wreak horrible vengeance on those who crossed him, as Augeas, 
Neleus and Laomedon all found out to their cost. 


Heracles capturing the Cretan bull. 

Origin and character 

Many popular stories were told of his life, the most famous being The 
Twelve Labours of Heracles; Alexandrian poets of the Hellenistic age 


drew his mythology into a high poetic and tragic atmosphere. His 
figure, which initially drew on Near Eastern motifs such as the 
lion-fight, was known everywhere: his Etruscan equivalent was 
Hercle, a son of Tinia and Uni. 

Heracles was the greatest of Hellenic chthonic heroes, but unlike other 
Greek heroes, no tomb was identified as his. Heracles was both hero 
and god, as Pindar says heroes theos; at the same festival sacrifice was 
made to him, first as a hero, with a chthonic libation, and then as a god, 
upon an altar: thus he embodies the closest Greek approach to a 
"demi-god". The core of the story of Heracles has been identified by 
Walter Burkert as originating in Neolithic hunter culture and traditions 
of shamanistic crossings into the netherworld. 

Hero or god 

Heracles' role as a culture hero, whose death could be a subject of 
mythic telling (see below), was accepted into the Olympian Pantheon 
during Classical times. This created an awkwardness in the encounter 
with Odysseus in the episode of Odyssey XI, called the Nekuia, where 
Odysseus encounters Heracles in Hades: 

And next I caught a glimpse of powerful Heracles — 

His ghost I mean: the man himself delights 

in the grand feasts of the deathless gods on high... 

Around him cries of the dead rang out like cries of birds 

scattering left and right in horror as on he came like night... ' 

Ancient critics were aware of the problem of the aside that interrupts the vivid and complete description, in which 
Heracles recognizes Odysseus and hails him, and modern critics find very good reasons for denying that the verses 
beginning, in Fagles' translation His ghost I mean... were part of the original composition: "once people knew of 
Heracles' admission to Olympus, they would not tolerate his presence in the underworld", remarks Friedrich 
Solmsen, noting that the interpolated verses represent a compromise between conflicting representations of 


The Origin of the Milky Way by Jacopo Tintoretto 

It is also said that when Heracles died he shed his mortal skin, which went down to the underworld and he went up to 
join the gods for being the greatest hero ever known. 

Christian Chronology 

In Christian circles a Euhemerist reading of the widespread Heracles cult was attributed to a historical figure who 
had been offered cult status after his death. Thus Eusebius, Preparation of the Gospel (10.12), reported that Clement 
could offer historical dates for Hercules as a king in Argos: "from the reign of Hercules in Argos to the deification of 
Hercules himself and of Asclepius there are comprised thirty-eight years, according to Apollodorus the chronicler: 
and from that point to the deification of Castor and Pollux fifty-three years: and somewhere about this time was the 
capture of Troy." 


Readers with a literalist bent, following Clement's reasoning, have 
asserted from this remark that, since Heracles ruled over Tiryns in 
Argos at the same time that Eurystheus ruled over Mycenae, and since 
at about this time Linus was Heracles' teacher, one can conclude, based 
on Jerome's date — in his universal history, his Chronicon — given to 
Linus' notoriety in teaching Heracles in 1264 BC, that Heracles' death 
and deification occurred 38 years later, in approximately 1226 BC. 


Temple to Heracles in Agrigento 

The ancient Greeks celebrated the festival of the Heracleia, which 

commemorated the death of Heracles, on the second day of the month of Metageitnion (which would fall in late July 

or early August). What is believed to be an Egyptian Temple of Heracles in the Bahariya Oasis dates to 21 BC. 

Heracles strangling snakes (detail from an Attic 
red-figured stamnos, ca. 480-470 BCE) 

Greek mythology 
Birth and childhood 

A major factor in the well-known tragedies surrounding Heracles is the 

hatred that the goddess Hera, wife of Zeus, had for him. A full account 

of Heracles must render it clear why Heracles was so tormented by 

Hera, when there were many illegitimate offspring sired by Zeus. 

Heracles was the son of the affair Zeus had with the mortal woman 

Alcmene. Zeus made love to her after disguising himself as her 

husband, Amphitryon, home early from war (Amphitryon did return 

later the same night, and Alcmene became pregnant with his son at the 

same time, a case of heteropaternal superfecundation, where a woman 

carries twins sired by different fathers). Thus, Heracles' very 

existence proved at least one of Zeus' many illicit affairs, and Hera 

often conspired against Zeus' mortal offspring as revenge for her husband's infidelities. His twin mortal brother, son 

of Amphitryon, was Iphicles, father of Heracles' charioteer Iolaus. 

On the night the twins Heracles and Iphicles were to be born, Hera, knowing of her husband Zeus' adultery, 
persuaded Zeus to swear an oath that the child born that night to a member of the House of Perseus would become 
High King. Hera did this knowing that while Heracles was to be born a descendant of Perseus, so too was 
Eurystheus. Once the oath was sworn, Hera hurried to Alcmene's dwelling and slowed the birth of the twins Heracles 
and Iphicles by forcing Ilithyia, goddess of childbirth, to sit crosslegged with her clothing tied in knots, thereby 
causing the twins to be trapped in the womb. Meanwhile, Hera caused Eurystheus to be born prematurely, making 
him High King in place of Heracles. She would have permanently delayed Heracles' birth had she not been fooled by 
Galanthis, Alcmene's servant, who lied to Ilithyia, saying that Alcmene had already delivered the baby. Upon 
hearing this, she jumped in surprise, loosing the knots and inadvertently allowing Alcmene to give birth to Heracles 
and Iphicles. 


Fear of Hera's revenge led Alcmene to expose the infant Heracles, but 
he was taken up and brought to Hera by his half-sister Athena, who 
played an important role as protectress of heroes. Hera did not 
recognize Heracles and nursed him out of pity. Heracles suckled so 
strongly that he caused Hera pain, and she pushed him away. Her milk 
sprayed across the heavens and there formed the Milky Way. But with 
divine milk, Heracles had acquired supernatural powers. Athena 
brought the infant back to his mother, and he was subsequently raised 
by his parents. 

The child was originally given the name Alcides by his parents; it was 
only later that he became known as Heracles. He was renamed 
Heracles in an unsuccessful attempt to mollify Hera. He and his twin 
were just eight months old when Hera sent two giant snakes into the 
children's chamber. Iphicles cried from fear, but his brother grabbed a 
snake in each hand and strangled them. He was found by his nurse 
playing with them on his cot as if they were toys. Astonished, 
Amphitryon sent for the seer Tiresias, who prophesied an unusual 
future for the boy, saying he would vanquish numerous monsters. 



Heracles as a boy strangling a snake (marble, 
Roman artwork, 2nd century CE) 


After killing his music tutor Linus with a lyre, he was sent to tend cattle on a mountain by his foster father 
Amphitryon. Here, according to an allegorical parable, "The Choice of Heracles", invented by the sophist Prodicus 
(c. 400 BC) and reported in Xenophon's Memorabilia 2.1.21-34, he was visited by two nymphs — Pleasure and 

Virtue — who offered him a choice between a pleasant and easy life or a severe but glorious life: he chose the latter. 

This was part of a pattern of "ethicizing" Heracles over the fifth century BC. 

Later in Thebes, Heracles married King Creon's daughter, Megara. In a fit of madness, induced by Hera, Heracles 

killed his children by Megara. After his madness had been cured with hellebore by Antikyreus, the founder of 

Antikyra, he realized what he had done and fled to the Oracle of Delphi. Unbeknownst to him, the Oracle was 

guided by Hera. He was directed to serve King Eurystheus for ten years and perform any task Eurystheus required of 

him. Eurystheus decided to give Heracles ten labours, but after completing them, Heracles was cheated by 

Eurystheus when he added two more, resulting in the Twelve Labors of Heracles. 

Labours of Heracles 



Driven mad by Hera, Heracles slew his own children. To expiate the 
crime, Heracles was required to carry out ten labors set by his 
archenemy, Eurystheus, who had become king in Heracles' place. If he 
succeeded, he would be purified of his sin and, as myth says, he would 
be granted immortality. Heracles accomplished these tasks, but 
Eurystheus did not accept the cleansing of the Augean stables because 
Heracles was going to accept pay for the labor. Neither did he accept 
the killing of the Lernaean Hydra as Heracles' nephew, Iolaus, had 
helped him bum the stumps of the heads. Eurysteus set two more tasks 
(fetching the Golden Apples of Hesperides and capturing Cerberus), 
which Heracles performed successfully, bringing the total number of 
tasks up to twelve. 

Not all writers gave the labors in the same order. The Bibliotheca 
(2.5.1-2.5.12) gives the following order: 

1 . Slay the Nemean Lion. 

2. Slay the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra. 

3. Capture the Golden Hind of Artemis. 

4. Capture the Erymanthian Boar. 

5. Clean the Augean stables in a single day. 

6. Slay the Stymphalian Birds. 

7. Capture the Cretan Bull. 

8. Steal the Mares of Diomedes. 

9. Obtain the girdle of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. 

10. Obtain the cattle of the monster Geryon. 

11. Steal the apples of the Hesperides (He had the help of Atlas to 
pick them after Hercules had slain Ladon). 

12. Capture and bring back Cerberus. 

Further adventures 

After completing these tasks, Heracles joined the Argonauts in a search 
for the Golden Fleece. They rescued heroines, conquered Troy, and 
helped the gods fight against the Gigantes. He also fell in love with 
Princess Iole of Oechalia. King Eurytus of Oechalia promised his 
daughter, Iole, to whoever could beat his sons in an archery contest. 
Heracles won but Eurytus abandoned his promise. Heracles' advances 
were spurned by the king and his sons, except for one: Iole's brother 
Iphitus. Heracles killed the king and his sons— excluding Iphitus— and 
abducted Iole. Iphitus became Heracles' best friend. However, once 
again, Hera drove Heracles mad and he threw Iphitus over the city wall 
to his death. Once again, Heracles purified himself through three years 
of servitude — this time to Queen Omphale of Lydia. 

The fight of Heracles and the Nemean lion is one 
of his most famous feats. (Side B from an 
black- figure Attic amphora, ca. 540 BCE) 

His 1 1th feat was to capture the 

apple of Hesperides (Gilded bronze, 

Roman artwork, 2nd century CE) 

Hercules and the Nemean lion, Gandhara, India, 
1st century. 

Heracles 1 1 


Omphale was a queen or princess of Lydia. As penalty for a murder, imposed by Xenoclea, the Delphic Oracle, 
Heracles was to serve as her slave for a year. He was forced to do women's work and to wear women's clothes, while 
she wore the skin of the Nemean Lion and carried his olive-wood club. After some time, Omphale freed Heracles 
and married him. Some sources mention a son born to them who is variously named. It was at that time that the 
cercopes, mischievous wood spirits, stole Heracles' weapons. He punished them by tying them to a stick with their 
faces pointing downward. 


While walking through the wilderness, Heracles was set upon by the Dryopes. In Apollonius of Rhodes' Argonautica 
it is recalled that Heracles had mercilessly slain their king, Theiodamas, over one of the latter's bulls, and made war 
upon the Dryopes "because they gave no heed to justice in their lives". After the death of their king, the Dryopes 
gave in and offered him Prince Hylas. He took the youth on as his weapons bearer and beloved. Years later, Heracles 
and Hylas joined the crew of the Argo. As Argonauts, they only participated in part of the journey. In Mysia, Hylas 
was kidnapped by the nymphs of a local spring. Heracles, heartbroken, searched for a long time but Hylas had fallen 
in love with the nymphs and never showed up again. In other versions, he simply drowned. Either way, the Argo set 
sail without them. 

Rescue of Prometheus 

Hesiod's Theogony and Aeschylus' Prometheus Unbound both tell that Heracles shot and killed the eagle that 
tortured Prometheus (which was his punishment by Zeus for stealing fire from the gods and giving it to mortals). 
Heracles freed the Titan from his chains and his torments. Prometheus then made predictions regarding further deeds 
of Heracles. 

Heracles' Constellation 

On his way back to Mycenae from Iberia, having obtained the Cattle of Geryon as his tenth labour, Heracles came to 
Liguria in North-Western Italy where he engaged into battle with two giants, Albion and Bergion or Dercynus, sons 
of Poseidon. The opponents were strong; Hercules was in a difficult position so he prayed to his father Zeus for help. 
Under the aegis of Zeus, Heracles won the battle. It was this kneeling position of Heracles when prayed to his father 
Zeus that gave the name Engonasin ("Eyyovaaiv", derived from "ev yovaoLv"), meaning "on his knees" or "the 
Kneeler" one constellation known as Heracles' constellation. The story, among others, is described by Dionysius of 

Laomedon of Troy 

Before the Trojan War, Poseidon sent a sea monster to attack Troy. The story is related in several digressions in the 
Iliad (7.451-453, 20.145-148, 21.442-457) and is found in Apollodorus' Bibliotheke (2.5.9). Laomedon planned on 
sacrificing his daughter Hesione to Poseidon in the hope of appeasing him. Heracles happened to arrive (along with 
Telamon and Oicles) and agreed to kill the monster if Laomedon would give him the horses received from Zeus as 
compensation for Zeus' kidnapping Ganymede. Laomedon agreed. Heracles killed the monster, but Laomedon went 
back on his word. Accordingly, in a later expedition, Heracles and his followers attacked Troy and sacked it. Then 
they slew all Laomedon's sons present there save Podarces, who was renamed Priam, who saved his own life by 
giving Heracles a golden veil Hesione had made. Telamon took Hesione as a war prize; they were married and had a 
son, Teucer. 



Other adventures 

• Heracles defeated the Bebryces (ruled by King Mygdon) and gave their land to Prince Lycus of Mysia, son of 

• He killed the robber Termerus. 

• Heracles visited Evander with Antor, who then stayed in Italy. 

• Heracles killed King Amyntor of the Dolopes for not allowing him into his kingdom. He also killed King 
Emathion of Arabia. 

• Heracles killed Lityerses after beating him in a contest of harvesting. 

• Heracles killed Periclymenus at Pylos. 

• Heracles killed Syleus for forcing strangers to hoe a vineyard. 

• Heracles rivaled with Lepreus and eventually killed him. 

• Heracles founded the city Tarentum (modern Taranto in Italy). 

• Heracles learned music from Linus (and Eumolpus), but killed him after Linus corrected his mistakes. He learned 
how to wrestle from Autolycus. He killed the famous boxer Eryx of Sicily in a match. 

• Heracles was an Argonaut. He killed Alastor and his brothers. 

• When Hippocoon overthrew his brother, Tyndareus, as King of Sparta, 
Heracles reinstated the rightful ruler and killed Hippocoon and his sons. 

• Heracles slew the giants Cycnus, Porphyrion and Mimas. The expedition 
against Cycnus, in which Iolaus accompanied Heracles, is the ostensible 
theme of a short epic attributed to Hesiod, Shield of Heracles. 

• Heracles killed Antaeus the giant who was immortal while touching the earth, 
by picking him up and holding him in the air while strangling him. 

• Heracles went to war with Augeias after he denied him a promised reward for 
clearing his stables. Augeias remained undefeated due to the skill of his two 
generals, the Molionides, and after Heracles fell ill, his army was badly 
beaten. Later, however, he was able to ambush and kill the Molionides, and 
thus march into Elis, sack it, and kill Augeias and his sons. 

• Heracles visited the house of Admetus on the day Admetus' wife, Alcestis, 
had agreed to die in his place. By hiding beside the grave of Alcestis, Heracles 
was able to surprise Death when he came to collect her, and by squeezing him 
tight until he relented, was able to persuade Death to return Alcestis to her 

• Heracles challenged wine god Dionysus to a drinking contest and lost, resulting in his joining the Thiasus for a 

• Heracles also appears in Aristophanes' The Frogs, in which Dionysus seeks out the hero to find a way to the 
underworld. Heracles is greatly amused by Dionysus' appearance and jokingly offers several ways to commit 
suicide before finally offering his knowledge of how to get to there. 

• Heracles appears as the ancestral hero of Scythia in Herodotus' text. While Heracles is sleeping out in the 
wilderness, a half-woman, half-snake creature steals his horses. Heracles eventually finds the creature, but she 
refuses to return the horses until he has sex with her. After doing so, he takes back his horses, but before leaving, 
he hands over his belt and bow, and gives instructions as to which of their children should found a new nation in 






During the course of his life, Heracles married four times. His first marriage was to Megara, whose children he 
murdered in a fit of madness. Apollodoros {Bibliotheke) recounts that Megara was unharmed and given in marriage 
to Iolaus, while in Euripides' version Heracles killed Megara, too. 

His second wife was Omphale, the Lydian queen or princess to whom 
he was delivered as a slave. 

His third marriage was to Deianira, for whom he had to fight the river 
god Achelous (upon Achelous' death, Heracles removed one of his 
horns and gave it to some nymphs who turned it into the cornucopia.) 
Soon after they wed, Heracles and Deianira had to cross a river, and a 
centaur named Nessus offered to help Deianira across but then 
attempted to rape her. Enraged, Heracles shot the centaur from the 
opposite shore with a poisoned arrow (tipped with the Lernaean 
Hydra's blood) and killed him. As he lay dying, Nessus plotted 
revenge, told Deianira to gather up his blood and spilled semen and, if 
she ever wanted to prevent Heracles from having affairs with other 
women, she should apply them to his vestments. Nessus knew that his 
blood had become tainted by the poisonous blood of the Hydra, and 
would burn through the skin of anyone it touched. 

The topos of Heracles suckling at Hera's breast 

was especially popular in Magna Graecia, here on 

a mid-4th century Apulian painted vase; Etruscan 

mythology adopted this iconic image 

Later, when Deianira suspected that Heracles was fond of Iole, she 

soaked a shirt of his in the mixture, creating the poisoned shirt of 

Nessus. Heracles' servant, Lichas, brought him the shirt and he put it 

on. Instantly he was in agony, the cloth burning into him. As he tried to 

remove it, the flesh ripped from his bones. Heracles chose a voluntary death, asking that a pyre be built for him to 

end his suffering. After death, the gods transformed him into an immortal, or alternatively, the fire burned away the 

mortal part of the demigod, so that only the god remained. After his mortal parts had been incinerated, he could 

become a full god and join his father and the other Olympians on Mount Olympus. He then married Hebe, his fourth 

and last wife. 


Another episode of his female affairs that stands out was his stay at the palace of Thespius king of Thespiae, who 
wished him to kill the Lion of Cithaeron. As a reward, the king offered him the chance to make love to his daughters, 
all fifty of them, in one night. Heracles complied and they all became pregnant and all bore sons. This is sometimes 
referred to as his Thirteenth Labour. Many of the kings of ancient Greece traced their lines to one or another of these, 
notably the kings of Sparta and Macedon. 

Yet another episode of his female affairs that stands out was when he carried away the oxen of Geryones, he also 
visited the country of the Scythians. Once while he was asleep there, his horses suddenly disappeared, and when he 
woke and wandered about in search of them, he came into the country of Hylaea. He there found the monster 
Echidna in a cave. When he asked whether she knew anything about his horses, she answered, that they were in her 
own possession, but that she would not give them up, unless he would consent to stay with her for a time. Heracles 
accepted the request, and became by her the father of Agathyrsus, Gelonus, and Scythes. The last of them became 
king of the Scythians, according to his father's arrangement, because he was the only one among the three brothers 



that was able to manage the bow which Heracles had left behind, and to use his father's girdle 



As symbol of masculinity and warriorship, Heracles also had a number 
of male lovers. Plutarch, in his Eroticos, maintains that Heracles' male 
lovers were beyond counting. Of these, the one most closely linked to 
Heracles is the Theban Iolaus. According to a myth thought to be of 
ancient origins, Iolaus was Heracles' charioteer and squire. Heracles in 
the end helped Iolaus find a wife. Plutarch reports that down to his own 
time, male couples would go to Iolaus's tomb in Thebes to swear an 
oath of loyalty to the hero and to each other. 


Heracles and Iolaus (Fountain mosaic from the 
Anzio Nymphaeum) 

One of Heracles' male lovers, and one represented in ancient as well as 

modern art, is Hylas. Though it is of more recent vintage (dated to the 

3rd century) than that with Iolaus, it had themes of mentoring in the 

ways of a warrior and help finding a wife in the end. However it should be noted that there is nothing whatever in 

Apollonius's account that suggests that Hylas was a sexual lover as opposed to a companion and servant 


Another reputed male lover of Heracles is Elacatas, who was honored in Sparta with a sanctuary and yearly games, 


Elacatea. The myth of their love is an ancient one. 

Abdera's eponymous hero, Abderus, was another of Heracles' lovers. He was said to have been entrusted with — and 
slain by — the carnivorous mares of Thracian Diomedes. Heracles founded the city of Abdera in Thrace in his 


memory, where he was honored with athletic games. 


Another myth is that of Iphitus. 

Another story is the one of his love for Nireus, who was "the most beautiful man who came beneath Ilion" {Iliad, 


673). But Ptolemy adds that certain authors made Nireus out to be a son of Heracles. 

Pausanias makes mention of Sostratus, a youth of Dyme, Achaea, as a lover of Heracles. Sostratus was said to have 

died young and to have been buried by Heracles outside the city. The tomb was still there in historical times, and the 

inhabitants of Dyme honored Sostratus as a hero. The youth seems to have also been referred to as Polystratus. 

There is also a series of lovers who are either later inventions or purely literary conceits. Among these are Admetus, 
who assisted in the hunt for the Calydonian Boar; Adonis; Corythus; and Nestor, who was said to have 
been loved for his wisdom. His role as lover was perhaps to explain why he was the only son of Neleus to be spared 
by the hero. 

A scholiast on Argonautica lists the following male lovers of Heracles: "Hylas, Philoctetes, Diomus, Perithoas, and 

Phrix, after whom a city in Libya was named". Diomus is also mentioned by Stephanus of Byzantium as the 

eponym of the deme Diomeia of the Attic phyle Aegeis: Heracles is said to have fallen in love with Diomus when he 

was received as guest by Diomus' father Colly tus. Perithoas and Phrix are otherwise unknown, and so is the 

version that suggests a sexual relationship between Heracles and Philoctetes. 




All of Heracles' marriages and almost all of his heterosexual affairs resulted in 
births of a number of sons and at least four daughters. One of the most prominent 
is Hyllus, the son of Heracles and Deianeira or Melite. The term Heracleidae, 
although it could refer to all of Heracles' children and further descendants, is 
most commonly used to indicate the descendants of Hyllus, in the context of their 
lasting struggle for return to Peloponnesus, out of where Hyllus and his brothers - 
the children of Heracles by Deianeira - were thought to have been expelled by 

The children of Heracles by Megara are collectively well known because of their 
ill fate, but there is some disagreement among sources as to their number and 

individual names. Apollodorus lists three, Therimachus, Creontiades and 

1311 H21 

Deicoon; to these Hyginus adds Ophitus and, probably by mistake, 

Archelaus, who is otherwise known to have belonged to the Heracleidae, but to 

have lived several generations later. A scholiast on Pindar' s odes provides a list 

of seven completely different names: Anicetus, Chersibius, Mecistophonus, 

Menebrontes, Patrocles, Polydorus, Toxocleitus. 

The divine sons of Heracles and Hebe are Alexiares and Anicetus. 

Other well-known children of Heracles include Telephus, king of Mysia (by 
Auge), and Tlepolemus, one of the Greek commanders in the Trojan War (by Astyoche). 

There is also, in some versions, reference to an episode where Heracles met and impregnated a half-serpentine 
woman, known as Echidna; her children, known as the Dracontidae, were the ancestors of the House of Cadmus. 

According to Herodotus, a line of 22 Kings of Lydia descended from Hercules and Omphale. The line was called 
Tylonids after his Lydian name. 

Heracles and his child Telephus. 

(Marble, Roman copy of the 1st— 2nd 

century CE) 

Children and consorts 

1 . Megara 

1. Therimachus 

2. Creontiades 

3. Ophitus 

4. Deicoon 

2. Omphale 

1 . Agelaus 

2. Tyrsenus 

3. Deianira 

1. Hyllus 

2. Ctesippus 

3. Glenus 

4. Oneites 

5. Macaria 

4. Hebe 

1. Alexiares 

2. Anicetus 

5. Astydameia, daughter of Ormenius 










. Ctesippus 
Astyoche, daughter of Phylas 

. Tlepolemus 


Autonoe, daughter of Pireus / Iphinoe, daughter of Antaeus 

Baletia, daughter of Baletus 

. Brettus [34] 

. Bargasus 











. Olynthus 

. Celtus 

. Thessalus 
Chania, nymph 


. Gelon 

. Agathyrsus 
. Gelonus 
. Skythes 

. Thestalus 


Lavinia, daughter of Evander 

. Pallas 

Malis, a slave of Omphale 

. Acelus [38] 

. Antiochus 
Melite (heroine) 
Melite (naiad) 

. Hyllus (possibly) 

. Eucleia 


Palantho of Hyperborea 

. Latinus 

Parthenope, daughter of Stymphalus 

. Everes 

1 . Aechmagoras 
26. Psophis 



1 . Echephron 

2. Promachus 

27. Pyrene 

1 . none known 

28. Rhea, Italian priestess 

1. Aventinus 

29. Thebe (daughter of Adramys) 

30. Tinge, wife of Antaeus 

1. Sophax [41] 

31. 50 daughters of Thespius 

1. 50 sons, see Thespius#Daughters and grandchildren 

32. Unnamed Celtic woman 

1. Galates [42] 

33. Unnamed slave of Omphale 

1 . Alcaeus / Cleodaeus 

34. Unnamed daughter of Syleus (Xenodoce?) L 

35. Unknown consorts 














8. Manto 

9. Pandaie 

10. Phaestus or Rhopalus 



This is described in Ovid's Metamorphoses Book IX. Having wrestled and 
defeated Achelous, god of the Acheloos river, Heracles takes Deianira as his 
wife. Travelling to Tiryns, a centaur, Nessus, offers to help Deianira across a fast 
flowing river while Heracles swims it. However, Nessus is true to the archetype 
of the mischievous centaur and tries to steal Deianira away while Heracles is still 
in the water. Angry, Heracles shoots him with his arrows dipped in the poisonous 
blood of the Lernaean Hydra. Thinking of revenge, Nessus gives Deianira his 
blood-soaked tunic before he dies, telling her it will "excite the love of her 

Several years later, rumor tells Deianira that she has a rival for the love of 
Heracles. Deianira, remembering Nessus' words, gives Heracles the bloodstained 
shirt. Lichas, the herald, delivers the shirt to Heracles. However, it is still covered 
in the Hydra's blood from Heracles' arrows, and this poisons him, tearing his skin 
and exposing his bones. Before he dies, Heracles throws Lichas into the sea, 

Hercules killing Centaur Nessus 
(marble by Giambologna, Florence) 

thinking he was the one who poisoned him (according to several versions, Lichas turns to stone, becoming a rock 
standing in the sea, named for him). Heracles then uproots several trees and builds a funeral pyre, which Poeas, 



father of Philoctetes, lights. As his body burns, only his immortal side is left. Through Zeus' apotheosis, Heracles 
rises to Olympus as he dies. 

No one but Heracles' friend Philoctetes (Poeas in some versions) would light his funeral pyre (in an alternate version, 
it is Iolaus who lights the pyre). For this action, Philoctetes or Poeas received Heracles' bow and arrows, which were 
later needed by the Greeks to defeat Troy in the Trojan War. Philoctetes confronted Paris and shot a poisoned arrow 
at him. The Hydra poison would subsequently lead to the death of Paris. The Trojan War, however, would continue 
until the Trojan Horse was used to defeat Troy. 

One remarkable commentary of Herodotus on Heracles is that he lived 900 years before himself (c. 1300 BCE). 

Hercules in Rome 

In Rome, Heracles was honored as Hercules, and had a number of distinctively Roman myths and practices 
associated with him under that name. 

Heracles in other cultures 

Via the Greco-Buddhist culture, Heraclean symbolism was transmitted 
to the far east. An example remains to this day in the Nio guardian 
deities in front of Japanese Buddhist temples. Herodotus connected 
Heracles both to Phoenician god Melqart and to the Egyptian god Shu. 
Temples dedicated to Heracles abounded all along the Mediterranean 
coastal countries. For example the temple of Heracles Monoikos (i.e. 
the lone dweller), built far from any nearby town upon a promontory in 
what is now the Cote d'Azur, gave its name to the area's more recent 
name, Monaco. 

The gateway to the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean, where 
the southernmost tip of Spain and the northernmost of Morocco face 
each other, is, classically speaking, referred to as the Pillars of 
Hercules/Heracles, owing to the story that he set up two massive spires 
of stone to stabilise the area and ensure the safety of ships sailing 
between the two landmasses. 

Spoken word myths 

Bibliography of reconstruction: Homer, Odyssey, 12.072 (7th c. BC); 
Theocritus, Idylls, 13 (350-310 BC); Callimachus, Aetia (Causes), 24. 
Thiodamas the Dryopian, Fragments, 160. Hymn to Artemis 
(310-250? BC); Apollonios Rhodios, Argonautika, I. 1175 - 1280 (c. 
250 BC); Bibliotheca 1.9.19, 2.7.7 (140 BC); Sextus Propertius, 
Elegies, i.20.17ff (50-15 BC); Ovid, Ibis, 488 (AD 8-18); Gaius 
Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica, 1.110, III.535, 560, IV.1-57 (1st 
century); Hyginus, Fables, 14. Argonauts Assembled (1st century); 
Philostratus the Elder, Images, ii.24 Thiodamas (170—245); First 
Vatican Mythographer, 49. Hercules et Hylas 

Hellenistic-era depiction of the Zoroastrian 

divinity Bahram as Hercules carved in 153 B.C. 

at Kermanshah, Iran. 

The protector Vajrapani of the 

Buddha is another incarnation of 

Heracles (Gandhara, 1st century CE) 





Zeus Danae 

Perseus Andromeda 

Perses Alcaeus Hipponome 

Electryon Anaxo 

Sthenelus Menippe Mestor 


Anaxo Amphitryon Alcmene Zeus 



Megara Heracles Deianira 



Mac aria 




[1] Becking, Bob, et al. Dictionary of deities and demons, ed. Toorn.Karel van der. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. 1999 

[2] Schmitz, Leonhard (1867). "Alceides" ( In William Smith. Dictionary of Greek and 

Roman Biography and Mythology. 1. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, pp. 98. . 
[3] Bibliotheca ii. 4. § 12 
[4] . By his adoptive descent through Ampitryon, Heracles receives the epithet Alcides, as "of the line of Alcaeus", father of Amphitryon. 

Amphitryon's own, mortal son was Iphicles. 
[5] Pausanias, Guide to Greece, 4.32.1 
[6] Aelian, Varia Historia, 12.15 
[7] Aelian, Varia Historia, 5.3 
[8] Burkert 1985, pp. 208-9 
[9] Burkert 1985, pp. 208-212. 




Robert Fagles' translation, 1996:269. 

Solmsen, Friedrich (1981). "The Sacrifice of Agamemnon's Daughter in Hesiod's' Ehoeae". The American Journal of Philology 102 (4): 
353-358 [p. 355]. JSTOR 294322. 

Compare the two pairs of twins born to Leda and the "double" parentage of Theseus. 

Andrew Ford, Aristotle as Poet, Oxford, 201 1, p. 208 n. 5, citing, in addition to Prodicus/Xenophon, Antisthenes, Herodorus (esp. FGrHist 
31 F 14), and (in the fourth century) Plato's use of "Heracles as a figure for Socrates' life (and death?): Apology 22a, cf. Theaetetus 175a, Lysis 

Pausanias X 3.1, 36.5. Ptolemaeus, Geogr. Hyph. II 184. 12. Stephanus of Byzantium, s.v. «AvxtKupa» 

Richard Hunter, translator, Jason and the Golden Fleece (Oxford: Clarendon Press), 1993, p 3 If. 

Dionysius of Halicarnassus, i. 41 

Herodotus, Histories IV. 8-10. 

Plutarch, Erotikos, 76 Id. The tomb of Iolaus is also mentioned by Pindar. 

Pindar, Olympian Odes, 9.98-99. 

Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica, 1.1177-1357; Theocritus, Idyll 13. 

Sosibius, in Hesychius of Alexandria's Lexicon 

Bibliotheca 2.5.8; Ptolemaeus Chennus, 147b, in Photius' Bibliotheca 

Ptolemaeus Chennus, in Photius' Bibliotheca 

Ptolemaeus Chennus, 147b. 

Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7. 17. 8 

Plutarch, Erotikos, 76 le. 

Ptolemaeus Chennus 

Ptolemaeus Chennus, 147e; Philostratus, Heroicus 696, per Sergent, 1986, p. 163. 

Scholia on Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 1. 1207 

Stephanus of Byzantium s. v. Diomeia 

Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, 2. 4. 11 = 2. 7. 8 





Fabulae 162 

Scholia on Pindar, Isthmian Ode 3 (4), 104 
Stephanus of Byzantium s. v. Brettos 
Stephanus of Byzantium s. v. Bargasu 
Servius on Virgil's Georgics 2. 1 15 
Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities, 1. 43. 1 
Stephanus of Byzantium s. v. Akeles 
Solinus, De mirabilia mundi, 1. 15 
Virgil, Aeneid, 7. 655 ff 
Plutarch, Life of Sertorius, 9. 4 
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 5. 24. 2 

So Conon, Narrationes, 17. In Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 6. 3 a daughter of Syleus, Xenodoce, is killed by Heracles 
Statius, Thebaid, 6. 837, 10. 249 
Stephanus of Byzantium s. v. Amathous 
Stephanus of Byzantium s. v. Gaza 
Statius, Thebaid, 6. 346 
Servius on Virgil's Eclogue 9. 30 

Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities, 1. 50. 4 
Hyginus, Fabulae, 162 

In Stephanus of Byzantium s. v. Phaistos, Rhopalus is the son of Heracles and Phaestus his own son; in Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2. 
6. 7, vice versa (Phaestus son, Rhopalus grandson) 
Ovid, Metamorphoses, IX 1.132-3 
Herodotus, Histories 11.145 
Morford, M.P.O, Lenardon R.J .(2007)Classical Mythology, pp. 865 Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Modern sources 

• Kerenyi, Karl (1959). The Heroes of the Greeks. New York/London: Thames and Hudson. 


• Heracles at ( Classical literature and art 

• Timeless Myths — Heracles ( The life and adventure 
of Heracles, including his twelve labours. 

• Heracles, Greek Mythology Link ( 

• Heracles (in French) ( 

• Vollmer: Herkules (1836, in German) ( 

• Burkert, Walter, (1977) 1985. Greek Religion (Harvard University Press). 

Further reading 

• Padilla, Mark W. (1998). "Herakles and Animals in the Origins of Comedy and Satyr Drama". In Le Bestiaire 
d'Heracles: Hie Rencontre heracleenne, edited by Corinne Bonnet, Colette Jourdain-Annequin, and Vinciane 
Pirenne-Delforge, 217-30. Kernos Suppl. 7. Liege: Centre International d'Etude de la Religion Grecque Antique. 

• Padilla, Mark W. (1998). "The Myths of Herakles in Ancient Greece: Survey and Profile". Lanham, Maryland: 
University Press of America. 




For other uses, see Theseus (disambiguation) 

Theseus /'6i:si:es/ (Ancient Greek: ©iioeiji; Greek: [t h e:seus]) was the 
mythical founder-king of Athens, son of Aethra, and fathered by 
Aegeus and Poseidon, both of whom Aethra had slept with in one 
night. Theseus was a founder-hero, like Perseus, Cadmus, or Heracles, 
all of whom battled and overcame foes that were identified with an 
archaic religious and social order. As Heracles was the Dorian hero, 
Theseus was the Athenian founding hero, considered by them as their 
own great reformer: his name comes from the same root as 0eo"u,6<; 
("thesmos"), Greek for "institution". He was responsible for the 
synoikismos ("dwelling together") — the political unification of Attica 
under Athens, represented emblematically in his journey of labours, 
subduing highly localized ogres and monstrous beasts. Because he was 
the unifying king, Theseus built and occupied a palace on the fortress 
of the Acropolis that may have been similar to the palace that was 
excavated in Mycenae. Pausanias reports that after the synoikismos, 
Theseus established a cult of Aphrodite Pandemos ("Aphrodite of all 
the People") and Peitho on the southern slope of the Acropolis. 

Theseus Slaying Minotaur (1843), bronze 
sculpture by Antoine-Louis Barye 

Plutarch's vita (a literalistic biography) of Theseus makes use of varying accounts of the death of the Minotaur, 

Theseus' escape, and the love of Ariadne for Theseus. Plutarch's sources, not all of whose texts have survived 

independently, included Pherecydes (mid-sixth century BC), Demon (ca 300 BC), Philochorus, and Cleidemus (both 

fourth century BC). [4] 

Early years 

Aegeus, one of the primordial kings of Athens, found a bride, Aethra 
who was the daughter of king Pittheus at Troezen, a small city 
southwest of Athens. On their wedding night, Aethra waded through 
the sea to the island of Sphairia that rests close to the coast and lay 
there with Poseidon (god of the sea and earthquakes). The mix gave 
Theseus a combination of divine as well as mortal characteristics in his 
nature; such double fathers, one immortal and one mortal, was a 
familiar feature of Greek heroes. After Aethra became pregnant, 
Aegeus decided to return to Athens. Before leaving, however, he 
buried his sandals and sword under a huge rock and told Aethra that 
when their son grew up, he should move the rock, if he were heroic 
enough, and take the tokens for himself as evidence of his royal 
parentage. In Athens, Aegeus was joined by Medea, who had fled 
Corinth after slaughtering the children she had borne Jason, and had 
taken Aegeus as her new consort. Priestess and consort together 
represented the old order in Athens. 

Thus Theseus was raised in his mother's land. When Theseus grew up and became a brave young man, he moved the 
rock and recovered his father's tokens. His mother then told him the truth about his father's identity and that he must 

Theseus and Aethra, by Laurent de La Hyre 



take the sword and sandals back to king Aegeus to claim his birthright. To journey to Athens, Theseus could choose 
to go by sea (which was the safe way) or by land, following a dangerous path around the Saronic Gulf, where he 
would encounter a string of six entrances to the Underworld, each guarded by a chthonic enemy. Young, brave, 
and ambitious, Theseus decided to go alone by the land route and defeated a great many bandits along the way. 

The deeds of Theseus, on an Attic red-figured 
kylix, ca. 440-430 BCE (British Museum) 

The Six Entrances of the Underworld 

• At the first site, which was Epidaurus, sacred to Apollo and the healer Aesculapius, Theseus turned the tables on 
the chthonic bandit, the "clubber" Periphetes, who beat his opponents into the Earth, and took from him the stout 
staff that often identifies Theseus in vase-paintings. At the time, Theseus was called the Mother Dog for many 

• At the Isthmian entrance to the Underworld was a robber named 
Sinis, often called "Pityokamptes" (Greek: nLruoKaujn:r|<;, "he who 
bends Pinetrees"). He would capture travelers, tie them between two 
pine trees that were bent down to the ground, and then let the trees 
go, tearing his victims apart. Theseus killed him by his own method. 
He then became intimate with Sinis's daughter, Perigune, fathering 
the child Melanippus. 

• In another deed north of the Isthmus, at a place called Crommyon, 
he killed an enormous pig, the Crommyonian Sow, bred by an old 
crone named Phaea. Some versions name the sow herself as Phaea. 
The Bibliotheca described the Crommyonian sow as an offspring of 
Typhon and Echidna. 

• Near Megara, an elderly robber named Sciron forced travellers 
along the narrow cliff-face pathway to wash his feet. While they 
knelt, he kicked them off the cliff behind them, where they were 
eaten by a sea monster (or, in some versions, a giant turtle). Theseus 
pushed him off the cliff. 

• Another of these enemies was Cercyon, king at the holy site of 
Eleusis, who challenged passers-by to a wrestling match and, when 
he had beaten them, killed them. Theseus beat Cercyon at wrestling 
and then killed him instead. In interpretations of the story that 
follow the formulas of Frazer's The Golden Bough, Cercyon was a 
"year-King", who was required to do an annual battle for his life, for 

the good of his kingdom, and was succeeded by the victor. Theseus overturned this archaic religious rite by 
refusing to be sacrificed. 

• The last bandit was Procrustes the Stretcher, who had two beds, one of which he offered to passers-by in the plain 
of Eleusis. He then made them fit into it, either by stretching them or by cutting off their feet. Since he had two 
beds of different lengths, no one would fit. Theseus turned the tables on Procrustes, cutting off his legs and 
decapitating him with his own axe. 

Detail of the kylix at right: Theseus and the 
Crommyonian Sow, with Phaea 



Theseus captures the Marathonian Bull (kylix 
painted by Aison, 5th century BC) 

Medea and the Marathonian Bull, Androgeus and the Pallantides 

When Theseus arrived at Athens, he did not reveal his true identity 
immediately. Aegeus gave him hospitality but was suspicious of the 
young, powerful stranger's intentions. Aegeus's wife Medea recognized 
Theseus immediately as Aegeus' son and worried that Theseus would 
be chosen as heir to Aegeus' kingdom instead of her son Medus. She 
tried to arrange to have Theseus killed by asking him to capture the 
Marathonian Bull, an emblem of Cretan power. 

On the way to Marathon, Theseus took shelter from a storm in the hut 
of an ancient woman named Hecale. She swore to make a sacrifice to 
Zeus if Theseus were successful in capturing the bull. Theseus did 
capture the bull, but when he returned to Hecale's hut, she was dead. In 
her honor Theseus gave her name to one of the demes of Attica, 
making its inhabitants in a sense her adopted children. 

When Theseus returned victorious to Athens, where he sacrificed the Bull, Medea tried to poison him. At the last 
second, Aegeus recognized the sandals, shield, and sword, and knocked the poisoned wine cup from Theseus's hand. 
Thus father and son were reunited, and Medea, it was said, fled to Asia. 

When Theseus appeared in the town, his reputation had preceded him, having travelled along the notorious coastal 
road from Troezen and slain some of the most feared bandits there. It was not long before the Pallantides' hopes of 
succeeding the apparently childless Aegeus would be lost if they did not get rid of Theseus (the Pallantides were the 
sons of Pallas and nephews of King Aegeus, who were then living at the royal court in the sanctuary of Delphic 


Apollo ). So they set a trap for him. One band of them would march on the town from one side while another lay in 
wait near a place called Gargettus in ambush. The plan was that after Theseus, Aegeus, and the palace guards had 
been forced out the front, the other half would surprise them from behind. However, Theseus was not fooled. 
Informed of the plan by a herald named Leos, he crept out of the city at midnight and surprised the Pallantides. 
"Theseus then fell suddenly upon the party lying in ambush, and slew them all. Thereupon the party with Pallas 

dispersed," Plutarch reported 




Theseus and the Minotaur 

Pasiphae, wife of King Minos of Crete, had several children before the 

Minotaur. The eldest of these, Androgeus, set sail for Athens to take 

part in the Pan-Athenian games, which were held there every five 

years. Being strong and skillful, he did very well, winning some events 

outright. He soon became a crowd favorite, much to the resentment of 

the Pallantides, and they assassinated him, incurring the wrath of 

Minos. When King Minos had heard of what befell his son, he ordered 

the Cretan fleet to set sail for Athens. Minos asked Aegeus for his son's 

assassins, and if they were to be handed to him, the town would be 

spared. However, not knowing who the assassins were, King Aegeus 

surrendered the whole town to Minos' mercy. His retribution was that, 

at the end of every Great Year (seven solar years), the seven most 

courageous youths and the seven most beautiful maidens were to board 

a boat and be sent as tribute to Crete, never to be seen again. In another 

version, King Minos of Crete had waged war with the Athenians and 

was successful. He then demanded that, at nine-year intervals, seven 

Athenian boys and seven Athenian girls were to be sent to Crete to be 

devoured by the Minotaur, a half-man, half-bull monster that lived in 

the Labyrinth created by Daedalus. On the third occasion, Theseus 

volunteered to slay the monster. He took the place of one of the youths 

and set off with a black sail, promising to his father, Aegeus, that if 

successful he would return with a white sail. Like the others, Theseus was stripped of his weapons when they 

sailed. On his arrival in Crete, Ariadne, King Minos' daughter, fell in love with Theseus and, on the advice of 

Daedalus, gave him a ball of thread. This was so he could find his way out of the Labyrinth. That night, Ariadne 

escorted Theseus to the Labyrinth, and Theseus promised that if he returned from the Labyrinth he would take 

Ariadne with him. As soon as Theseus entered the Labyrinth, he tied one end of the ball of string to the door post and 

brandished his sword which he had kept hidden from the guards inside his tunic. Theseus followed Daedalus' 

instructions given to Ariadne; go forwards, always down and never left or right. Theseus came to the heart of the 

Labyrinth and also upon the sleeping Minotaur. The beast awoke and a tremendous fight then occurred. Theseus 

overpowered the Minotaur with his strength and stabbed the beast in the throat with his sword (according to one 

scholium on Pindar's Fifth Nemean Ode, Theseus strangled it). After decapitating the beast, Theseus used the 

string to escape the Labyrinth and managed to escape with all of the young Athenians and Ariadne as well as her 

younger sister Phaedra. Then he and the rest of the crew fell asleep on the beach. Athena wakes Theseus and tells 

him to leave early that morning. Athena tells Theseus to leave Ariadne and Phaedra on the beach. Stricken with 

distress, Theseus forgot to put up the white sails instead of the black ones, so the king committed suicide. Dionysus 

later saw Ariadne crying out for Theseus and took pity on her and married her. 

Theseus and the Minotaur on 6th-century 
black-figure pottery 



Ship of Theseus 

According to Plutarch's Life of Theseus, the ship Theseus used on his return from Crete to Athens was kept in the 
Athenian harbor as a memorial for several centuries. 

The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned had thirty oars, and was preserved by the 

Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they 

decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their place... 

The ship had to be maintained in a seaworthy state, for, in return for Theseus's successful mission, the Athenians had 
pledged to honour Apollo every year henceforth. Thus, the Athenians sent a religious mission to the island of Delos 
(one of Apollo's most sacred sanctuaries) on the Athenian state galley — the ship itself — to pay their fealty to the 
god. To preserve the purity of the occasion, no executions were permitted between the time when the religious 


ceremony began to when the ship returned from Delos, which took several weeks. 

To preserve the ship, any wood that wore out or rotted was replaced; it was, thus, unclear to philosophers how much 
of the original ship actually remained, giving rise to the philosophical question whether it should be considered "the 
same" ship or not. Such philosophical questions about the nature of identity are sometimes referred to as the Ship of 
Theseus Paradox. 

Regardless of these issues of the originality of the ship's structure, for Athenians the preserved ship kept fresh their 
understanding that Theseus had been an actual, historic figure — which none then doubted — and gave them a 
tangible connection to their divine providence. 

Theseus and Pirithous 

Theseus's best friend was Pirithous, prince of the Lapiths. Pirithous had 
heard stories of Theseus's courage and strength in battle but wanted 
proof, so he rustled Theseus's herd of cattle and drove it from 
Marathon, and Theseus set out in pursuit. Pirithous took up his arms 
and the pair met to do battle, but were so impressed with each other 
they took an oath of friendship and joined the hunt for the Calydonian 
Boar. In Iliad I, Nestor numbers Pirithous and Theseus "of heroic 
fame" among an earlier generation of heroes of his youth, "the 
strongest men that Earth has bred, the strongest men against the 
strongest enemies, a savage mountain-dwelling tribe whom they utterly 
destroyed." No trace of such an oral tradition, which Homer's listeners 
would have recognized in Nestor's allusion, survived in literary epic. 
Later, Pirithous was preparing to marry Hippodamia. The centaurs were guests at the wedding feast, but got drunk 
and tried to abduct the women, including Hippodamia. The Lapiths won the ensuing battle. 

Theseus Defeats the Centaur by Antonio Canova 
(1804-1819), Kunsthistorisches Museum 

In Ovid's Metamorphoses Theseus fights against and kills Eurytus, the "fiercest of all the fierce centaurs 
wedding of Pirithous and Hippodamia. 


at the 



Theseus carries off the willing Helen, on an Attic 
red-figure amphora, ca. 5 1 BCE 

The abduction of Helen and encounter with Hades 

Theseus, a great abductor of women, and his bosom companion, 
Pirithous, since they were sons of Zeus and Poseidon, pledged 

themselves to marry daughters of Zeus. Theseus, in an old 

tradition, chose Helen, and together they kidnapped her, intending 

to keep her until she was old enough to marry. Pirithous chose 

Persephone. They left Helen with Theseus's mother, Aethra at 

Aphidna, whence she was rescued by the Dioscuri. 

On Pirithous' behalf they travelled to the underworld, domain of 

Persephone and her husband, Hades. As they wandered through the 

outskirts of Tartarus, Theseus sat down to rest on a rock. As he did so 

he felt his limbs change and grow stiff. He tried to rise but could not. 

He was fixed to the rock on which he sat. Then, as he turned to cry out 

to his friend Pirithous, he saw that he himself was crying out too. 

Around him was standing the terrible band of Furies with snakes in 

their hair, torches and long whips in their hands. Before these monsters the hero's courage failed and by them was led 

away to eternal punishment. 

For many months in half darkness, Theseus sat immovably fixed to the rock, mourning both for his friend and for 
himself. In the end he was rescued by Heracles. He had come down to the underworld for his 12th task. There he 
persuaded Persephone to forgive him for the part he had taken in the rash venture of Pirithous. So Theseus was 
restored to the upper air but Pirithous never left the kingdom of the dead for when he tried to free Pirithous, the 
Underworld shook. When Theseus returned to Athens, he found that the Dioscuri had taken Helen and Aethra to 

The friendship of Theseus and Pirithous acquired homoerotic undertone in Attic comedy. Heracles succeeded in 
freeing only Theseus, and left behind his buttocks attached to the rocks - from which Theseus came to be called 
hypolispos, meaning "with hinder parts rubbed smooth." This was meant as an obscene comment upon on how his 
buttocks had been "rubbed" the wrong way. (The myth was possibly retrospectively constructed in order to account 
for the obscene phrase.) 


Theseus, believed either to be in the company of Heracles, or of his own accord, had been on a quest in the land of 
the Amazons, a race of all-female warriors who had sex with men for reproduction but killed or banished any male 
children born. Sensing no trouble or malice from Theseus, the Amazons decided to welcome him by having the 
queen Hippolyta go aboard his ship bearing gifts. After boarding the ship, Theseus left for Athens, claiming 
Hippolyta as his bride. This sparked a war between the Amazons and the Athenians. Hippolyta eventually bore a son 
for Theseus, whom they named Hippolytus (ImioXvxoc) . Theseus lost his love for Hippolyta, however, after he had 
seen Phaedra. 

Plutarch's Life places Hyppolyta's Amazonian sister, Antiope, as the Amazonian kidnapped by Theseus. In this 
account, Antiope is the mother of Hyppolytus (named after her sister). 

Theseus 27 

Phaedra and Hippolytus 

Phaedra, Theseus's second wife, bore Theseus two sons, Demophon and Acamas. While these two were still in their 
infancy, Phaedra fell in love with Hippolytus, Theseus's son by Hippolyta. According to some versions of the story, 
Hippolytus had scorned Aphrodite to become a devotee of Artemis, so Aphrodite made Phaedra fall in love with him 
as punishment. He rejected her out of chastity. 

Alternatively, in Euripides' version, Hippolytus, Phaedra's nurse told Hippolytus of her mistress's love and he swore 
he would not reveal the nurse as his source of information. To ensure that she would die with dignity, Phaedra wrote 
to Theseus on a tablet claiming that Hippolytus had raped her before hanging herself. Theseus believed her and used 
one of the three wishes he had received from Poseidon against his son. The curse caused Hippolytus' horses to be 
frightened by a sea monster, usually a bull, and drag their rider to his death. Artemis would later tell Theseus the 
truth, promising to avenge her loyal follower on another follower of Aphrodite. 

In a version by Seneca, the Roman playwright, entitled Phaedra, after Phaedra told Theseus that Hippolytus had 
raped her, Theseus killed his son himself, and Phaedra committed suicide out of guilt, for she had not intended for 
Hippolytus to die. 

In yet another version, Phaedra simply told Theseus Hippolytus had raped her and did not kill herself, and Dionysus 
sent a wild bull which terrified Hippolytus's horses. 

A cult grew up around Hippolytus, associated with the cult of Aphrodite. Girls who were about to be married offered 
locks of their hair to him. The cult believed that Asclepius had resurrected Hippolytus and that he lived in a sacred 
forest near Aricia in Latium. 

Other stories and his death 

According to sources, Theseus also was one of the Argonauts, although Apollonius of Rhodes states in the 
Argonautica that Theseus was still in the underworld at this time. Both statements are inconsistent with Medea being 
Aegeus' wife by the time Theseus first came to Athens. With Phaedra, Theseus fathered Acamas, who was one of 
those who hid in the Trojan Horse during the Trojan War. Theseus welcomed the wandering Oedipus and helped 
Adrastus to bury the Seven Against Thebes. 

Lycomedes of the island of Skyros threw Theseus off a cliff after he had lost popularity in Athens. In 475 BC, in 
response to an oracle, Cimon of Athens, having conquered Skyros for the Athenians, identified as the remains of 
Theseus "a coffin of a great corpse with a bronze spear-head by its side and a sword." (Plutarch, Life of Cimon, 
quoted Burkert 1985, p. 206). The remains found by Cimon were reburied in Athens. The early modern name 
Theseion (Temple of Theseus) was mistakenly applied to the Temple of Hephaestus which was thought to be the 
actual site of the hero's tomb. 



Adaptations of the myth 


Racine's Phedre (1677) features Theseus as well as Hippolytus and the title 

Theseus is a prominent character as the Duke of Athens in William Shakespeare's 
plays, A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Two Noble Kinsmen. Hippolyta also 
appears in both plays. Theseus likewise appears as a major character in Geoffrey 
Chaucer's The Knight's Tale. 

Mary Renault's The King Must Die (1958) is a dramatic retelling of the Theseus 
legend through the return from Crete to Athens. While fictional, it is generally 
faithful to the spirit and flavor of the best-known variations of the original story. 
The sequel is The Bull from the Sea (1962), about the hero's later career. 

Kir Bulychev's 1993 book An Attempt on Theseus' Life (noKymeHiie Ha Te3ea) is 
about a plot to assassinate a man during a virtual reality tour in which he lives 
through Theseus' life. 

John Dempsey's "Ariadne's Brother: A Novel on the Fall of Bronze Age Crete" 
(1996, ISBN 960-219-062-0) tells the Minoan Cretan version of these events 
based on both archaeology and myth. 

Theseus with the head of Minotaur 

Troy Denning's 1996 novel Pages of Pain features an amnesic Theseus fighting to recover his past while interacting 
with some of the more colorful beings of the Planescape universe. 

Steven Pressfield's 2002 novel Last of the Amazons attempts to situate Theseus's meeting and subsequent marriage to 
Antiope, as well as the ensuing war, in a historically plausible setting. 

Jorge Luis Borges presents an interesting variation of the myth in a short story, "La Casa de Asterion" ("The House 
of Asterion"). 

British comedian Tony Robinson wrote a version of the Theseus story entitled "Theseus: Super Hero". 

Author Tracy Barrett wrote a novel titled Dark of the Moon, published in 2011, which is a re-write of the Theseus 

Author Suzanne Collins was inspired by Theseus to write The Hunger Games trilogy, which was published from 



Film and television 

Theseus is played by Bob Mathias in the 1960 film Minotaur, the Wild Beast of Crete, and by Tom Hardy in the 
2006 film Minotaur. 

A 1971 Soviet cartoon, "The Labyrinth", covers the titular adventure as well as Theseus's encounters with the 
Crommyonian sow and Procrustes. 

In the 2011 Tarsem Singh film, Immortals, Theseus (played by Henry Cavill) leads a war against the mortal king 
Hyperion (played by Mickey Rourke) of Heraklion. 

Theseus 29 


[I] For the ancient Greeks, convinced that Theseus had actually existed, he was not mythic, of course, but legendary. 

[2] See Carl A. P. Ruck and Danny Staples, The World of Classical Myth (Carolina Academic Press, 1994), ch. ix "Theseus:Making the New 
Athens" pp 203—22: "This was a major cultural transition, like the making of the new Olympia by Hercules" (p. 204). 

[3] "May I therefore succeed in purifying Fable, making her submit to reason and take on the semblance of History. But where she obstinately 
disdains to make herself credible, and refuses to admit any element of probability, I shall pray for kindly readers, and such as receive with 
indulgence the tales of antiquity." (Plutarch, Life of Theseus). Plutarch's avowed purpose is to construct a life that parallels the vita of Romulus 
that embodies the founding myth of Rome. 

[4] Edmund P. Cueva, "Plutarch's Ariadne in Chariton's Chaereas and Callirhoe" American Journal of Philology 117.3 (Fall 1996) pp. 473—484. 

[5] The theory, expounded as natural history by Aristotle, was accepted through the nineteenth century and only proven wrong in modern 
genetics: see Telegony (heredity). Sometimes in myth the result could be twins, one born divine of a divine father, the other human of a 
human sire: see Dioscuri. Of a supposed Parnassos, founder of Delphi, Pausanias observes, "Like the other heroes, as they are called, he had 
two fathers; one they say was the god Poseidon, the human father being Cleopompus." (Description of Greece x.6.1). 

[6] Rock "which had a hollow in it just large enough to receive these objects," Plutarch explains. 

[7] Compared to Hercules and his Labours, "Theseus is occupied only with the sacred Entrances that are local to the lands of Athens" (Ruck and 
Staples 1994:204). 

[8] "...where now is the enclosure in the Delphinium, for that is where the house of Aegeus stood, and the Hermes to the east of the sanctuary is 
called the Hermes at Aegeus's gate." (Plutarch, 12) 

[9] Plutarch, 13. 

[10] Plutarch quotes Simonides to the effect that the alternate sail given by Aegeus was not white, but "a scarlet sail dyed with the tender flower 
of luxuriant holm oak." (Plutarch, 17.5). 

[II] Ariadne is sometimes represented in vase-paintings with the thread wound on her spindle. 
[12] Noted by Kerenyi 1959:232 note 532. 

[13] Demetrius Phalereus was a distinguished orator and statesman, who governed Athens for a decade before being exiled, in 307 BCE. 
[14] Cooper, John M., ed. (1997). Plato: Complete Works. Associate editor, D. S. Hutchinson. Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett. p. 37. 

ISBN 0-87220-349-2. 
[15] Ovid, Metamorphoses, XIL217-153 

[16] Scholia on Iliad \i\.\AA and a fragment (#227) of Pindar, according to Kerenyi 1951:237, note 588. 
[17] Reported at Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 13.4 (557a) (http://digicoll. library. wise. edu/cgi-bin/Literature/Literature-idx?type=turn& 

id=Literature.AthV3&entity=Literature.AthV3.p0079&ql=helen&pview=hide); cf. Kerenyi 1959:234 and note. 
[18] Zeitchik, Steven (March 24, 2012). "Which dystopian property does 'The Hunger Games' most resemble?" (http://www.bostonherald. 

com/entertainment/movies/general/view/20120324which_dystopian_property_does_the_hunger_games_most_resemble/). Los Angeles 

Times via Boston Herald (Boston Herald and Herald Media). . Retrieved March 24, 2012. 

Primary sources 

• Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 

• Ovid, Metamorphoses 

• Plutarch, Theseus ( 

Secondary sources 

• Burkert, Walter, Greek Religion (1985) 

• Kerenyi, Karl, The Heroes of the Greeks (1959) 

• Price, Anne, The Quest for Theseus (London, 1970) examines the Theseus-Minotaur- Ariadne myth and its 
historical basis, and later treatments and adaptations of it in Western culture. 

• Ruck, Carl A. P. and Danny Staples, The World of Classical Myth: ch. IX "Theseus: making the new Athens" 
(1994), pp. 203-222. 

• Walker, Henry J., Theseus and Athens, Oxford University Press (US 1995). The most thorough scholarly 
examination of Theseus's archaic origins and classical myth and cult, and his place in classical literature. 



External links 

• (Theoi Project) Plutarch: Life of Theseus ( 


Odysseus ( 4 /ou'dlsies/ or /ou'dlsju;s/; Greek: 'OSdooeiji;, 
Odusseus), also known by the Roman name Ulysses (/ju:'llsi:z/; Latin: 
Ulysses, Ulixes), was the perhaps fictional Greek king of Ithaca and the 
hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role 
in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle. 

Husband of Penelope, father of Telemachus, and son of Laertes and 
Anticlea, Odysseus is renowned for his guile and resourcefulness, and 
is hence known by the epithet Odysseus the Cunning (metis, or 
"cunning intelligence"). He is most famous for the ten eventful years he 
took to return home after the ten-year Trojan War and his famous 
Trojan Horse trick. 

Name, etymology and epithets 

The name has several variants: Olysseus ('OXvooevc), Oulixeus 
(OuXl^eik;), Oulixes (OtJ>a^r|<;) and he was known as Ulysses in 
Latin or Ulixes in Roman mythology. 

Head of Odysseus from a Greek 2nd century BC 
marble group representing Odysseus blinding 
Polyphemus, found at the villa of Tiberius at 

The etymology of the name is contested, according to one view, the 

name Odysseus derives from the verb odussomai (66i>aooum), 

meaning "to be wroth against', 'hate", suggesting that the name could be rendered as "the one who is 

wrathful/hated". Alternatively, it has been also suggested that this is of non-Greek origin and probably 

of non-Indo-European origin too, while it is of an unknown etymology 


In the Iliad and Odyssey there are several epithets to describe Odysseus. In Odyssey 19, in which Odysseus's early 

childhood is recounted, Euryclea asks Autolycus, to name him. Euryclea tries to guide him to naming the boy 

Polyaretos, "for he has much been prayed for" (19.403f). In Greek, however, Polyaretos can also take the opposite 

meaning: much accursed. Autolycus seems to infer this connotation of the name and accordingly names his grandson 

Odysseus. Odysseus often receives the patronymic epithet Laertiades (Greek: Aa£pTLa8r|<;), son of Laertes. 

His name and stories were adopted into Etruscan religion under the name 




Relatively little is known of Odysseus's background other than that his paternal grandfather (or step-grandfather) is 
Arcesius, son of Cephalus and grandson of Aeolus, whilst his maternal grandfather is the thief Autolycus, son of 
Hermes and Chione. According to The Odyssey, his father is Laertes and his mother Anticlea, although there was 
a non-Homeric tradition that Sisyphus was his true father, but that serves as an insult to his character. The rumor 

went that Laertes bought Odysseus from the conniving king . However, his true lineage is always brought out in 

plays by the end. Odysseus is said to have a younger sister, Ctimene, who went to Same to be married and is 

mentioned by the swineherd Eumaeus, whom she grew up alongside, in Book XV of the Odyssey 
island along the Ionian northwestern coastline of Greece. 


Ithaca, an 

Odysseus 31 

"Cruel Odysseus" 

Homer's Iliad and Odyssey portrayed Odysseus as a culture hero, but the Romans, who believed themselves the 
scions of Prince Aeneas of Troy, considered him a villainous falsifier. In Virgil's Aeneid, he is constantly referred to 
as "cruel Odysseus" (Latin "dims Ulixes") or "deceitful Odysseus" ("pellacis", "fandi fictor"). Turnus, in Aeneid ix, 
reproaches the Trojan Ascanius with images of rugged, forthright Latin virtues, declaring (in John Dry den's 
translation), "You shall not find the sons of Atreus here, nor need the frauds of sly Ulysses fear." While the Greeks 
admired his cunning and deceit, these qualities did not recommend themselves to the Romans who possessed a rigid 
sense of honour. In Euripides's tragedy Iphigenia at Aulis, having convinced Agamemnon to consent to the sacrifice 
of his daughter, Iphigenia, to appease the goddess Artemis, Odysseus facilitates the immolation by telling her 
mother, Clytemnestra, that the girl is to be wed to Achilles. His attempts to avoid his sacred oath to defend Menelaus 
and Helen offended Roman notions of duty; the many stratagems and tricks that he employed to get his way 
offended Roman notions of honour. 

Before the Trojan War 

The majority of sources for Odysseus' antebellum exploits — principally the mythographers Pseudo-Apollodorus and 
Hyginus — postdate Homer by many centuries. Two stories in particular are well known: 

When Helen was abducted, Menelaus called upon the other suitors to honour their oaths and help him to retrieve her, 
an attempt that would lead to the Trojan War. Odysseus tried to avoid it by feigning lunacy, as an oracle had 
prophesied a long-delayed return home for him if he went. He hooked a donkey and an ox to his plough (as they 
have different stride lengths, hindering the efficiency of the plough) and (some modern sources add) started sowing 
his fields with salt. Palamedes, at the behest of Menelaus's brother Agamemnon, sought to disprove Odysseus's 
madness, and placed Telemachus, Odysseus's infant son, in front of the plough. Odysseus veered the plough away 
from his son, thus exposing his stratagem. Odysseus held a grudge against Palamedes during the war for dragging 
him away from his home. 

Odysseus and other envoys of Agamemnon then traveled to Scyros to recruit Achilles because of a prophecy that 
Troy could not be taken without him. By most accounts, Thetis, Achilles's mother, disguised the youth as a woman 
to hide him from the recruiters because an oracle had predicted that Achilles would either live a long, uneventful life 
or achieve everlasting glory while dying young. Odysseus cleverly discovered which among the women before him 
was Achilles, when the youth was the only one of them showing interest to examine the weapons hidden among an 
array of adornment gifts for the daughters of their host. Odysseus arranged then further for the sounding of a battle 
horn, which prompted Achilles to clutch a weapon and show his trained disposition; with his disguise foiled, he was 


exposed and joined Agamemnon's call to arms among the Hellenes. 

During the Trojan War 
The Iliad 

Odysseus was one of the most influential Greek champions during the Trojan War. Along with Nestor and 
Idomeneus he was one of the most trusted counsellors and advisers. He always championed the Achaean cause, 
especially when the king was in question, as in one instance when Thersites spoke against him. When Agamemnon, 

to test the morale of the Achaeans, announced his intentions to depart Troy, Odysseus restored order to the Greek 

n si 
camp. Later on, after many of the heroes had left the battlefield due to injuries (including Odysseus and 

Agamemnon), Odysseus once again persuaded Agamemnon not to withdraw. Along with two other envoys, he was 


chosen in the failed embassy to try to persuade Achilles to return to combat. 

When Hector proposed a single combat duel, Odysseus was one of the Danaans who reluctantly volunteered to battle 
him. Telamonian Ajax, however, was the volunteer who eventually did fight Hector. Odysseus aided Diomedes 

Odysseus 32 

during the successful night operations in order to kill Rhesus, because it had been foretold that if his horses drank 
from the Scamander river Troy could not be taken. 

After Patroclus had been slain, it was Odysseus who counselled Achilles to let the Achaean men eat and rest rather 
than follow his rage-driven desire to go back on the offensive — and kill Trojans — immediately. Eventually (and 
reluctantly), he consented. 

During the funeral games for Patroclus, Odysseus became involved in a wrestling match with Telamonian Ajax, as 
well as a foot race. With the help of the goddess Athena, who favoured him, and despite Apollo's helping another of 
the competitors, he won the race and managed to draw the wrestling match, to the surprise of all. 

Odysseus has traditionally been viewed in the Iliad as Achilles's antithesis: while Achilles's anger is all-consuming 
and of a self-destructive nature, Odysseus is frequently viewed as a man of the mean, renowned for his self-restraint 
and diplomatic skills. He is more conventionally viewed as the antithesis of Telamonian Ajax (Shakespeare's 
"beef-witted" Ajax) because the latter has only brawn to recommend him, while Odysseus is not only ingenious (as 
evidenced by his idea for the Trojan Horse), but an eloquent speaker, a skill perhaps best demonstrated in the 
embassy to Achilles in book 9 of the Iliad. And the two are not only foils in the abstract but often opposed in 
practice; they have many duels and run-ins (for examples see the next section). 

Other stories from the Trojan War 

When the Achaean ships reached the beach of Troy, no one would jump ashore, since there was an oracle that the 
first Achaean to jump on Trojan soil would die. Odysseus tossed his shield on the shore and jumped on his shield. He 
was followed by Protesilaus, who jumped on Trojan soil and later became the first to die. 

Odysseus never forgave Palamedes for unmasking his feigned madness, leading him to frame him as a traitor. At one 
point, Odysseus convinced a Trojan captive to write a letter pretending to be from Palamedes. A sum of gold was 
mentioned to have been sent as a reward for Palamedes's treachery. Odysseus then killed the prisoner and hid the 
gold in Palamedes's tent. He ensured that the letter was found and acquired by Agamemnon, and also gave hints 
directing the Argives to the gold. This was evidence enough for the Greeks and they had Palamedes stoned to death. 
Other sources say that Odysseus and Diomedes goaded Palamedes into descending a wall with the prospect of 
treasure being at the bottom. When Palamedes reached the bottom, the two proceeded to bury him with stones, 
killing him. 

When Achilles was slain in battle, it was Odysseus and Telamonian Ajax who successfully retrieved the fallen 
warrior's body and armour in the thick of heavy fighting. During the funeral games for Achilles, Odysseus competed 
once again with Telamonian Ajax. Thetis said that the arms of Achilles would go to the bravest of the Greeks, but 
only these two warriors dared lay claim to that title. The two Argives became embroiled in a heavy dispute about one 
another's merits to receive the reward. The Greeks dithered out of fear in deciding a winner, because they did not 

want to insult one and have him abandon the war effort. Nestor suggested that they allow the captive Trojans decide 

T231 T241 

the winner. Some accounts disagree, suggesting that the Greeks themselves held a secret vote. In any case, 

Odysseus was the winner. Enraged and humiliated, Ajax was driven mad by Athena. When he returned to his senses, 

in shame at how he had slaughtered livestock in his madness, Ajax killed himself by the sword that Hector had given 

him. [25] 

Together with Diomedes, Odysseus went to fetch Achilles' son, Pyrrhus, to come to the aid of the Achaeans, because 
an oracle had stated that Troy could not be taken without him. A great warrior, Pyrrhus was also called Neoptolemus 
(Greek: "new warrior"). Upon the success of the mission, Odysseus gave Achilles' armor to him. 

It was later learned that the war could not be won without the poisonous arrows of Heracles, which were owned by 
the abandoned Philoctetes. Odysseus and Diomedes (or, according to some accounts, Odysseus and Neoptolemus) 
went out to retrieve them. Upon their arrival, Philoctetes (still suffering from the wound) was seen still to be enraged 
at the Danaans, especially Odysseus, for abandoning him. Although his first instinct was to shoot Odysseus, his 
anger was eventually diffused by Odysseus's persuasive powers and the influence of the gods. Odysseus returned to 



the Argive camp with Philoctetes and his arrows. 

Odysseus and Diomedes would later steal the Palladium that lay within Troy's walls, for the Greeks were told they 
could not sack the city without it. Some sources indicate that Odysseus schemed to kill his partner on the way back, 
but Diomedes thwarted this attempt. 

Perhaps Odysseus' most famous contribution to the Greek war effort was devising the strategem of the Trojan Horse, 
which allowed the Greek army to sneak into Troy under cover of darkness. It was built by Epeius and filled with 
Greek warriors, led by Odysseus 


Journey home to Ithaca 

Odysseus is probably best known as the eponymous hero of the 
Odyssey, This epic describes his travails as he tries to return home after 
the Trojan War and reassert his place as rightful king of Ithaca. 

On the way home from Troy, after a raid on Ismaros in the land of the 
Cicones, he and his twelve ships were driven off course by storms. 
They visited the lethargic Lotus-Eaters and were captured by the 
Cyclops Polyphemus, only escaping by blinding him with a wooden 
stake. While they were escaping, however, Odysseus foolishly told 
Polyphemus his identity, and Polyphemus told his father, Poseidon, 
who had blinded him. They stayed with Aeolus, the master of the 
winds; he gave Odysseus a leather bag containing all the winds, except 
the west wind, a gift that should have ensured a safe return home. 
However, the sailors foolishly opened the bag while Odysseus slept, 
thinking that it contained gold. All of the winds flew out and the 
resulting storm drove the ships back the way they had come, just as 
Ithaca came into sight. 

This is a painting of Odysseus's boat passing 

between the six-headed monster Scylia and the 

whirlpool Charybdis. Scylia has plucked six of 

Odysseus's men from the boat. The painting is an 

Italian fresco dating to 1560 C.E. 

After pleading in vain with Aeolus to help them again, they 

re-embarked and encountered the cannibalistic Laestrygones. Odysseus' ship was the only one to escape. He sailed 
on and visited the witch-goddess Circe. She turned half of his men into swine after feeding them cheese and wine. 
Hermes warned Odysseus about Circe and gave Odysseus a drug called moly, a resistance to Circe's magic. Circe, 
being attracted to Odysseus' resistance, fell in love with him and released his men. Odysseus and his crew remained 
with her on the island for one year, while they feasted and drank. Finally, Odysseus' men convinced Odysseus that it 
was time to leave for Ithaca. 

Guided by Circe's instructions, Odysseus and his crew crossed the ocean and reached a harbor at the western edge of 
the world, where Odysseus sacrificed to the dead and summoned the spirit of the old prophet Tiresias to advise him. 
Next Odysseus met the spirit of his own mother, who had died of grief during his long absence; from her, he learned 
for the first time news of his own household, threatened by the greed of Penelope's suitors. Returning to Circe's 
island, they were advised by her on the remaining stages of the journey. They skirted the land of the Sirens, passed 
between the six-headed monster Scylia and the whirlpool Charybdis, where they rowed directly between the two. 
However, Scylia dragged the boat towards her by grabbing the oars and ate six men. They landed on the island of 
Thrinacia. There, Odysseus' men ignored the warnings of Tiresias and Circe and hunted down the sacred cattle of the 
sun god Helios. This sacrilege was punished by a shipwreck in which all but Odysseus drowned. He was washed 
ashore on the island of Calypso, where she compelled him to remain as her lover for seven years before he escaped. 

Odysseus finally escapes and is shipwrecked and befriended by the Phaeacians. After telling them his story, the 
Phaeacians led by King Alcinous agree to help Odysseus get home. They deliver him at night, while he is fast asleep, 
to a hidden harbor on Ithaca. He finds his way to the hut of one of his own former slaves, the swineherd Eumaeus, 

Odysseus 34 

and also meets up with Telemachus returning from Sparta. Athena disguises Odysseus as a wandering beggar in 
order to learn how things stand in his household. 

When the disguised Odysseus returns, Penelope announces in her long interview with the disguised hero that 
whoever can string Odysseus's rigid bow and shoot an arrow through twelve axe shafts may have her hand. "For the 
plot of the Odyssey, of course, her decision is the turning point, the move that makes possible the long-predicted 


triumph of the returning hero". Odysseus' identity is discovered by the housekeeper, Eurycleia, as she is washing 
his feet and discovers an old scar Odysseus received during a boar hunt. Odysseus swears her to secrecy, threatening 
to kill her if she tells anyone. 

When the contest of the bow begins, none of the suitors are able to string the bow, but Odysseus does, and wins the 
contest. Having done so, he proceeds to slaughter the suitors — beginning with Antinous whom he finds drinking 
from Odysseus' cup — with help from Telemachus, Athena and two servants, Eumaeus the swineherd and Philoetius 
the cowherd. Odysseus tells the serving women who slept with the suitors to clean up the mess of corpses and then 
has those women hanged in terror. He tells Telemachus that he will replenish his stocks by raiding nearby islands. 
Odysseus has now revealed himself in all his glory (with a little makeover by Athena); yet Penelope cannot believe 
that her husband has really returned — she fears that it is perhaps some god in disguise, as in the story of 
Alcmene — and tests him by ordering her servant Euryclea to move the bed in their wedding-chamber. Odysseus 
protests that this cannot be done since he made the bed himself and knows that one of its legs is a living olive tree. 
Penelope finally accepts that he truly is her husband, a moment that highlights their homophrosyne 
(like-mindednes s) . 

The next day Odysseus and Telemachus visit the country farm of his old father Laertes. The citizens of Ithaca follow 
Odysseus on the road, planning to avenge the killing of the Suitors, their sons. The goddess Athena intervenes and 
persuades both sides to make peace. 

Other stories 

Odysseus is one of the most recurrent characters in Western culture. 


According to some late sources, most of them purely genealogical, Odysseus had many other children besides 
Telemachus, the most famous being: 

• with Penelope: Poliporthes (born after Odysseus's return from Troy) 

• with Circe: Telegonus, Ardeas, Latinus 

• with Calypso: Nausithous, Nausinous 

• with Callidice: Polypoetes 

• with Euippe: Euryalus 

• with daughter of Thoas: Leontophonus 

Most such genealogies aimed to link Odysseus with the foundation of many Italic cities in remote antiquity. 

He figures in the end of the story of King Telephus of Mysia. 

The supposed last poem in the Epic Cycle is called the Telegony, and is thought to tell the story of Odysseus's last 
voyage, and of his death at the hands of Telegonus, his son with Circe. The poem, like the others of the cycle, is 
"lost" in that no authentic version has been discovered. 

In 5th century BC Athens, tales of the Trojan War were popular subjects for tragedies. Odysseus figures centrally or 
indirectly in a number of the extant plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, (Ajax, Philoctetes) and Euripides, {Hecuba, 
Rhesus, Cyclops) and figured in still more that have not survived. In the Ajax, Sophocles portrays Odysseus as a 
modernistic voice of reasoning compared to the title character's rigid antiquity. 

Odysseus 35 

As Ulysses, he is mentioned regularly in Virgil's Aeneid, and the poem's hero, Aeneas, rescues one of Ulysses's crew 
members who was left behind on the island of the Cyclops. He in turn offers a first-person account of some of the 
same events Homer relates, in which Ulysses appears directly. Virgil's Ulysses typifies his view of the Greeks: he is 
cunning but impious, and ultimately malicious and hedonistic. 

Ovid retells parts of Ulysses's journeys, focusing on his romantic involvements with Circe and Calypso, and recasts 
him as, in Harold Bloom's phrase, "one of the great wandering womanizers." Ovid also gives a detailed account of 
the contest between Ulysses and Ajax for the armor of Achilles. 

Greek legend tells of Ulysses as the founder of Lisbon, Portugal, calling it Ulisipo or Ulisseya, during his 

twenty-year errand on the Mediterranean and Atlantic seas. Olisipo was Lisbon's name in the Roman Empire. Basing 

in this folk etymology, the belief that Ulysses is recounted by Strabo based on Asclepiades of Myrleia's words, by 

Pomponius Mela, by Gaius Julius Solinus (3rd century A.D.), and finally by Camoes in his epic poem Lusiads. 

Middle Ages and Renaissance 

Dante, in Canto 26 of the Inferno of his Divine Comedy, encounters Odysseus ("Ulisse" in the original Italian) near 
the very bottom of Hell: with Diomedes, he walks wrapped in flame in the eighth ring (Counselors of Fraud) of the 
Eighth Circle (Sins of Malice), as punishment for his schemes and conspiracies that won the Trojan War. In a 
famous passage, Dante has Odysseus relate a different version of his final voyage and death from the one 
foreshadowed by Homer. He tells how he set out with his men for one final journey of exploration to sail beyond the 
Pillars of Hercules and into the Western sea to find what adventures awaited them. Men, says Ulisse, are not made to 
live like brutes, but to follow virtue and knowledge. 

After travelling west and south for five months, they saw in the distance a great mountain rising from the sea (this is 
Purgatory, in Dante's cosmology) before a storm sank them. Dante did not have access to the original Greek texts of 
the Homeric epics, so his knowledge of their subject-matter was based only on information from later sources, 
chiefly Virgil's Aeneid but also Ovid; hence the discrepancy between Dante and Homer. 

He appears in Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, set during the Trojan War. 



The bay of Palaiokastritsa in Corfu as seen from Bella vista of Lakones. Corfu is 
considered to be the mythical island of the Phaeacians. The bay of Palaiokastritsa 
is considered to be the place where Odysseus disembarked and met Nausicaa for 
the first time. The rock in the sea visible near the horizon at the top centre-left of 

the picture is considered by the locals to be the mythical petrified ship of 

Odysseus. The side of the rock toward the mainland is curved in such a way as to 

resemble the extended sail of a trireme 


Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem "Ulysses" 
presents an aging king who has seen too 
much of the world to be happy sitting on a 
throne idling his days away. Leaving the 
task of civilizing his people to his son, he 
gathers together a band of old comrades "to 
sail beyond the sunset". 

James Joyce's novel Ulysses uses modern 
literary devices to narrate a single day in the 
life of a Dublin businessman named 
Leopold Bloom. Bloom's day turns out to 
bear many elaborate parallels to Odysseus' 
twenty years of wandering. 

In Virginia Woolfs response novel, Mrs. 
Dalloway, the comparative character is 
Clarisse Dalloway, who also appeared in 
Voyage Out and several short stories. 

Cream's song "Tales of Brave Ulysses" 
speaks somewhat of the travels of Odysseus 
including his encounter with the Sirens. An 
unnamed Odysseus figure is the narrator of the Steely Dan song, "Home at Last." 

Frederick Rolfe's The Weird of the Wanderer has the hero Nicholas Crabbe (based on the author) travelling back in 
time, discovering that he is the reincarnation of Odysseus, marrying Helen, being deified and ending up as one of the 
three Magi. 

In Dan Simmons' novels Ilium and Olympos, Odysseus is encountered both at Troy and on a futuristic Earth. 

Nikos Kazantzakis' The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel, a 33,333 line epic poem, begins with Odysseus cleansing his 
body of the blood of Penelope's suitors. Odysseus soon leaves Ithaca in search of new adventures. Before his death 
he abducts Helen; incites revolutions in Crete and Egypt; communes with God; and meets representatives of various 
famous historical and literary figures, such as Vladimir Lenin, Don Quixote and Jesus. 

Ulysses 31 is a Japanese-French anime series, published in 1981, which updates the Greek and Roman mythologies 
of Ulysses (or Odysseus) to the 31st century. In the series, the gods are angered when Ulysses, commander of the 
giant spaceship Odyssey, kills the giant Cyclops to rescue a group of enslaved children including Telemachus. Zeus 
sentences Ulysses to travel the universe with his crew frozen until he finds the Kingdom of Hades, at which point his 
crew will be revived and he will be able to return to Earth. In one episode, he travels back in time and meets the 
Odysseus of the Greek myth. 

Early 20th century British composer Cecil Armstrong Gibbs's second symphony (for chorus and orchestra) is named 
after and based on the story of Odysseus, with text by Essex poet Mordaunt Currie. 

Suzanne Vega's song "Calypso" shows Odysseus from Calypso's point of view, and tells the tale of him coming to 
the island and his leaving. 

Joel and Ethan Coen's film O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000) is loosely based on the Odyssey. However, the Coens 
have stated that they hadn't ever read the epic. George Clooney plays Ulysses Everett McGill, leading a group of 
escapees from a chain gang through an adventure in search of the proceeds of an armoured truck heist. On their 
voyage, the gang encounter — amongst other characters — a trio of Sirens and a one-eyed bible salesman. 

Odysseus 37 

In S.M. Stirling's Island in the Sea of Time trilogy, Odikweos (Mycenean spelling) is a 'historical' figure who is every 
bit as cunning as his legendary self and is one of the few Bronze Age inhabitants who discerns the time-traveller's 
real background. Odikweos first aids William Walker's rise to power in Achaea and later helps bring Walker down 
after seeing his homeland turn into a police state. 

Between 1978 and 1979, German director Tony Munzlinger made a documentary series called Unterwegs mit 
Odysseus (roughly translated: "Journeying with Odysseus"), in which a film team sails across the Mediterranean Sea 
trying to find traces of Odysseus in the modern-day settings of the Odyssey. In between the film crew's exploits, 
hand-drawn scissor-cut cartoons are inserted which relate the hero's story, with actor Hans Clarin providing the 

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood retells the story from the point of view of Penelope. 

Lindsay Clarke's The War at Troy features Odysseus, and its sequel, The Return from Troy, retells the voyage of 
Odysseus in a manner which combines myth with modern psychological insight. 

Progressive metal band Symphony X have a song based on Odysseus's journey, and called "The Odyssey", on the 
album of the same name. At 24 minutes and 7 seconds long, it has a six-part orchestra playing in it, each part 
comprising about sixty musicians. 

Irish poet Eilean Ni Chuilleanain wrote "The Second Voyage", a poem in which she makes use of the story of 

A cartoon show named Class of the Titans has a character named 'Odie' who is a direct descendant of Odysseus. One 
of the episodes, "The Odie-sey", portrays the story of the Odyssey, with characters like Calypso, Scylla, and Aeolus, 
and also including modern twists. 

Actor Kirk Douglas portrayed Odysseus in the Italian 1955 feature film Ulysses. Actor Sean Bean portrayed 
Odysseus in the feature film Troy. Actor Armand Assante played Odysseus in the TV miniseries The Odyssey. He 
had also been played by John Drew B anymore in the 1961 film The Trojan Horse and by Piero Lulli in the 1962 
film The Fury of Achilles. 

Odysseus is also a character in David Gemmell's Troy trilogy, in which he is a good friend and mentor of Helikaon. 
He is known as the ugly king of Ithaka. His marriage with Penelope was arranged, but they grew to love each other. 
He is also a famous storyteller, known to exaggerate his stories and heralded as the greatest storyteller of his age. 
This is used as a plot device to explain the origins of such myths as those of Circe and the Gorgons. In the series, he 
is fairly old and an unwilling ally of Agamemnon. 

In the second book of the Percy Jackson series, The Sea of Monsters, Percy and his friends encounter many obstacles 
similar to those in the Odyssey, including Scylla and Charybidis, the Sirens, Polyphemus, and others. 

He is the hero of The Luck of Troy by Roger Lancelyn Green, whose title refers to the theft of the Palladium. 

Tony Robinson's 1996 UK children's television series Odysseus: The Greatest Hero of Them All (sometimes listed as 
an episode in the Jackanory serial), comprised Robinson narrating the Iliad and Odyssey, with most of the events 
maintained intact, but retold in modern language. 

Comparative mythology 

A similar story exists in Hindu mythology with Nala and Damayanti where Nala separates from Damayanti and is 
reunited with her. The story of stringing a bow is similar to the description in Ramayana of Rama stringing the 
bow to win Sita's hand in marriage. 

"Odysseus himself was the only one who was able to strain his bow ... he beat his competitors and 
regained his wife after his long absence due to the Trojan War. We can discover the same theme ... for 
example in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata ...." 


Odysseus 38 


• Tole, Vasil S. (2005). Odyssey and Sirens: A Temptation towards the Mystery of the Iso-polyphonic Regions of 
Epirus, A Homeric theme with variations. Tirana, Albania. ISBN 99943-31-63-9. 

• Bittlestone, Robert; with James Diggle and John Underhill (2005). Odysseus Unbound: The Search for Homer's 

Ithaca. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-85357-5. Odysseus Unbound website 

• Ernie Bradford, Ulysses Found, Hodder and Stoughton, 1963 


[I] Entry: '0&uoa£t>5[[Category:Articles containing Ancient Greek language text ( 
ptext?doc=Perseus:text:1999.04.0057:entry=#72123)]] at Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, 1940, A Greek-English Lexicon. 

[2] Entry: oovjoooum (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0057:entry=o)du/ssomai) in Liddell & Scott, A 

Greek-English Lexicon 
[3] Powell, Barry B. (2007-04-16). Writing and the Origins of Greek Literature ( 

pg=PA142&dq=Odysseus+odussomai&ct=result#v=onepage&q=Of course the Greeks enjoyed false, often playful etymologies (eg 

Odysseus from odussomai, "to be angry," Od. 19.407).&f=false). Cambridge University Press, pp. 142— ISBN 978-0-521-03631-3. . 

Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
[4] Silver, Morris (1992). Taking ancient mythology economically (http://books. google. com/books ?id=sPCwwxOwbXUC&pg=PA173). 

BRILL, pp. 173-4. ISBN 978-90-04-09706-3. . Retrieved 27 September 2010. 
[5] Bloom, edited & with an introduction by Harold (2007). Homer's The Odyssey. New York: Chelsea House, p. 68. ISBN 978-0-7910-9299-6. 
[6] Grant, Michael; Hazel, John (2002). Who's who in classical mythology (Reprint, ed.). London [u.a.]: Routledge. p. 61. 

ISBN 978-0-415-26041-1. 
[7] Schonborn, Hans-Bernhard (1976). Die Pastophoren im Kult der dgyptischen Gbtter ( 

books ?id=TmtfAAAAMAAJ&dq=odysseus+odyssomai&q="Odysseus,+derived+from+odyssomai)."#search_anchor). Meisenheim am 

Glan: Hain. p. 49. ISBN 978-3-445-01363-7. . 
[8] Dihle, Albrecht (1994). Griechische Literaturgeschichte (http://books. google. com/books?id=NkO_Eozss_cC&pg=PA19). Psychology 

Press, p. 19. ISBN 978-0-415-08620-2. . Retrieved 27 September 2010. 
[9] Polyaretos, "prayed for" 
[10] "Mommsen" ( 2010-06-15. . 

Retrieved 201 1-09-25. 

[II] Homer does not link Laertes as one of the Argonauts. 

[12] Scholium on Sophocles' Aiax 1988, noted in Karl Kerenyi, The Heroes of the Greeks 1959:77. 

[13] "Philoctetes" 

[14] "A so-called 'Homeric' drinking-cup shows pretty undisguisedly Sisyphos in the bed-chamber of his host's daughter, the arch-rogue sitting 

on the bed and the girl with her spindle." (Kerenyi, eo. loc. 
[15] "Women in Homer's Odyssey" ( Records. 1997-09-16. . Retrieved 2011-09-25. 
[16] Hyginus Fabulae 95 (http://www.theoi.eom/Text/HyginusFabulae2.html#95). Cf. Apollodorus Epitome 3.7 ( 

[17] "Hyginus 96" (http://www.theoi.eom/Text/HyginusFabulae2.html#96). . Retrieved 2011-09-25. 
[18] Book 2. 
[19] Book 9. 
[20] Book 10. 
[21] Book 23. 

[22] Apollodorus Epitome 3.8; Hyginus 105. 
[23] Scholium to Odyssey 11.547 
[24] Odyssey 11.543-47. 
[25] Sophocles Ajax. 

[26] Apollodorus Epitome 5.8; Sophocles Philoctetes. 
[27] See, e.g. Homer Odyssey 8.493; Apollodorus Epitome 5.14-15. 

[28] Bernard Knox. (1996). Introduction to Robert Fagles's translation of The Odyssey p. 55. 
[29] "?" ( . 

[30] fatti nonfoste a viver come bruti/ma per seguir virtute e conoscenza 
[31] Doniger, Wendy (1999). Splitting the difference: gender and myth in ancient Greece and India. University of Chigaco Press. 

ISBN 978-0-226-15641-5. pp.l57ff 
[32] Fokkens, Harry et al. (2008). "Bracers or bracelets? About the functionality and meaning of Bell Beaker wrist-guards". Proceedings of the 

Prehistoric Society (University of Leiden) 74. p. 122. 



External links 

• "Archaeological discovery in Greece may be the tomb of Odysseus" from the Madera Tribune (http:// 






Medusa's head 




Zeus and Danae 


Perses, Heleus 



Perseus (Ancient Greek: nepoeiiq), the legendary founder of Mycenae and of the Perseid dynasty of Danaans there, 
was the first of the heroes of Greek mythology whose exploits in defeating various archaic monsters provided the 
founding myths of the Twelve Olympians. Perseus was the Greek hero who killed the Gorgon Medusa, and claimed 
Andromeda, having rescued her from a sea monster sent by Poseidon in retribution for Queen Cassiopeia declaring 
that her daughter, Andromeda, was more beautiful than the Nereids. 


Because of the obscurity of the name Perseus and the legendary character of its bearer, most etymologists pass it by, 
on the presumption that it might be pre-Greek; however, the name of Perseus' native city was Greek and so were the 
names of his wife and relatives. There is some prospect that it descended into Greek from the Proto-Indo-European 
language. In that regard Robert Graves has espoused the only Greek derivation available. Perseus might be from the 
ancient Greek verb, "jtEpOsLv" (perthein), "to waste, ravage, sack, destroy", some form of which appears in Homeric 
epithets. According to Carl Darling Buck (Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin), the —eus suffix is typically 
used to form an agent noun, in this case from the aorist stem, pers-. Pers-eus therefore is a sacker of cities; that is, a 
soldier by occupation, a fitting name for the first Mycenaean warrior. 

The origin of perth- is more obscure. J. B. Hofmann lists the possible root as *bher-, from which Latin ferio, 
"strike". This corresponds to Julius Pokorny's *bher-(3), "scrape, cut." Ordinarily *bh- descends to Greek as ph-. 
This difficulty can be overcome by presuming a dissimilation from the — th— in perthein; that is, the Greeks preferred 
not to say *pherthein. Graves carries the meaning still further, to the perse- in Persephone, goddess of death. John 
Chadwick in the second edition of Documents in Mycenaean Greek speculates as follows about the goddess 
pe-re-*82 of Pylos tablet Tn 316, tentatively reconstructed as *Preswa: 



"It is tempting to see. ..the classical Perse. ..daughter of Oceanus...; whether it may be further identified with the 
first element of Persephone is only speculative." 

A Greek folk etymology connected the name of the Persian (Pars) people, whom they called the Persai. The native 
name, however has always had an -a- in Persian. Herodotus recounts this story, devising a foreign son, Perses, 
from whom the Persians took the name. Apparently the Persians themselves knew the story, as Xerxes tried to use 
it to suborn the Argives during his invasion of Greece, but ultimately failed to do so. 


Origin at Argos 

Perseus was the son of Zeus and Danae, who by her very name, was the archetype of all the Danaans. 1 ^ She was the 
only child of Acrisius, King of Argos. Disappointed by his lack of luck in having a son, Acrisius consulted the oracle 
at Delphi, who warned him that he would one day be killed by his daughter's son. Danae was childless and to keep 
her so, he imprisoned her in a bronze chamber open to the sky in the courtyard of his palace: This my theme is also 
connected to Ares, Oenopion, Eurystheus, etc. Zeus came to her in the form of a shower of gold, and impregnated 
her. Soon after, their child was born; Perseus — "Perseus Eurymedon, for his mother gave him this name as 
well" (Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica IV). 

Fearful for his future but unwilling to provoke the wrath of the gods by killing Zeus's offspring and his own 


daughter, Acrisius cast the two into the sea in a wooden chest. Danae' s fearful prayer made while afloat in the 
darkness has been expressed by the poet Simonides of Ceos. Mother and child washed ashore on the island of 
Seriphos, where they were taken in by the fisherman Dictys ("fishing net"), who raised the boy to manhood. The 
brother of Dictys was Polydectes ("he who receives/welcomes many"), the king of the island. 

Overcoming the Gorgon 

When Perseus was grown, Polydectes came to fall in love with the 
beautiful Danae. Perseus believed Polydectes was less than 
honourable, and protected his mother from him; thus Polydectes 
plotted to send Perseus away in disgrace. He held a large banquet 
where each guest was expected to bring a gift. Polydectes requested 
that the guests bring horses, under the pretense that he was collecting 
contributions for the hand of Hippodamia, "tamer of horses". The 
fisherman's protege had no horse to give, so he asked Polydectes to 
name the gift; he would not refuse it. Polydectes held Perseus to his 
rash promise and demanded the head of the only mortal Gorgon, 
Medusa, whose eyes turned people to stone. Ovid's account of 
Medusa's mortality tells that she had once been a woman, vain of her 
beautiful hair, who had lain with Poseidon in the Temple of Athena. 
In punishment for the desecration of her temple, Athena had changed 
Medusa's hair into hideous snakes "that she may alarm her surprised 

foes with terror 

„ [12] 

The Baleful Head (1887), part of a series of 

Perseus paintings by the Pre-Raphaelite artist 

Edward Burne- Jones, playing with the theme of 

the reflected gaze 



"Perseus with the head of Medusa'" 

is a common subject for sculpture, 

here in an 1801 example by Antonio 


Athena instructed Perseus to find the Hesperides, who were entrusted with 
weapons needed to defeat the Gorgon. Following Athena's guidance, Perseus 
sought out the Graeae, sisters of the Gorgons, to demand the whereabouts of the 
Hesperides, the nymphs tending Hera's orchard. The Graeae were three 
perpetually old women, who had to share a single eye. As the women passed the 

eye from one to another, Perseus snatched it from them, holding it for ransom in 

return for the location of the nymphs. When the sisters led him to the 

Hesperides, he returned what he had taken. 

From the Hesperides he received a knapsack (kibisis) to safely contain Medusa's 
head. Zeus gave him an adamantine sword and Hades' helm of darkness to hide. 
Hermes lent Perseus winged sandals to fly, while Athena gave him a polished 
shield. Perseus then proceeded to the Gorgons' cave. 

In the cave he came upon the sleeping Medusa. By viewing Medusa's reflection 
in his polished shield, he safely approached and cut off her head. From her neck 
sprang Pegasus ("he who sprang") and Chrysaor ("bow of gold"), the result of 

Poseidon and Medusa's meeting. The other two Gorgons pursued Perseus, 


but, wearing his helm of darkness, he 

Marriage to Andromeda 

On the way back to Seriphos Island, Perseus stopped in the kingdom of 
Ethiopia. This mythical Ethiopia was ruled by King Cepheus and Queen 
Cassiopeia. Cassiopeia, having boasted herself equal in beauty to the 
Nereids, drew down the vengeance of Poseidon, who sent an inundation 
on the land and a sea serpent, Cetus, which destroyed man and beast. 
The oracle of Ammon announced that no relief would be found until the 
king exposed his daughter Andromeda to the monster, and so she was 
fastened to a rock on the shore. Perseus slew the monster and, setting 
her free, claimed her in marriage. 

In the classical myth, he flew using the flying sandals. Renaissance 
Europe and modern imagery has generated the idea that Perseus flew 
mounted on Pegasus (though not in the paintings by Piero di Cosimo 
and Titian) 


Perseus and Andromeda. 

Perseus married Andromeda in spite of Phineus, to whom she had 
before been promised. At the wedding a quarrel took place between the 

rivals, and Phineus was turned to stone by the sight of Medusa's head 

that Perseus had kept. Andromeda ("queen of men") followed her 

husband to Tiryns in Argos, and became the ancestress of the family of the Perseidae who ruled at Tiryns through 

n si 
her son with Perseus, Perses. After her death she was placed by Athena amongst the constellations in the northern 

sky, near Perseus and Cassiopeia. Sophocles and Euripides (and in more modern times Pierre Corneille) made the 

episode of Perseus and Andromeda the subject of tragedies, and its incidents were represented in many ancient 

works of art. 

As Perseus was flying in his return above the sands of Libya, according to Apollonius of Rhodes, the falling 
drops of Medusa's blood created a race of toxic serpents, one of whom was to kill the Argonaut Mopsus. On 
returning to Seriphos and discovering that his mother had to take refuge from the violent advances of Polydectes, 



Perseus killed him with Medusa's head, and made his brother Dictys, consort of Danae, king. 

The oracle fulfilled 

Perseus then returned his magical loans and gave Medusa's head as a 
votive gift to Athena, who set it on Zeus' shield (which she carried), as 
the Gorgoneion (see also: Aegis). 

The fulfillment of the oracle was told several ways, each 

incorporating the mythic theme of exile. In Pausanias he did not 

return to Argos, but went instead to Larissa, where athletic games were 

being held. 

He had just invented the quoit and was making a public display of 
them when Acrisius, who happened to be visiting, stepped into the 
trajectory of the quoit and was killed: thus the oracle was fulfilled. This 
is an unusual variant on the story of such a prophecy, as Acrisius' 
actions did not, in this variant, cause his death. 

In the Bibliotheca, the inevitable occurred by another route: Perseus 

did return to Argos, but when he learned of the oracle, went into 

voluntary exile in Pelasgiotis (Thessaly). There Teutamides, king of 

Larissa, was holding funeral games for his father. Competing in the 

discus throw Perseus' throw veered and struck Acrisius, killing him instantly. 

In a third tradition, Acrisius had been driven into exile by his brother, Proetus. Perseus turned the brother into 

stone with the Gorgon's head and restored Acrisius to the throne. Having killed Acrisius, Perseus, who was next in 

line for the throne, gave the kingdom to Megapenthes ("great mourning") son of Proetus and took over Megapenthes' 

kingdom of Tiryns. The story is related in Pausanias, which gives as motivation for the swap that Perseus was 

ashamed to become king of Argos by inflicting death. 

In any case, early Greek literature reiterates that manslaughter, even involuntary, requires the exile of the slaughterer, 
expiation and ritual purification. The exchange might well have been a creative solution to a difficult problem; 
however, Megapenthes would have been required to avenge his father, which, in legend, he did, but only at the end 
of Perseus' long and successful reign. 

Perseus frees Andromeda (detail), by Piero di 
Cosimo, 1515 (Uffizi) 

King of Mycenae 

The two main sources regarding the legendary life of Perseus — for 
he was an authentic historical figure to the Greeks — are Pausanias 
and the Bibliotheca, but from them we obtain mainly 
folk-etymology concerning the founding of Mycenae. 
Pausanias asserts that the Greeks believed Perseus founded 
Mycenae. He mentions the shrine to Perseus that stood on the 
left-hand side of the road from Mycenae to Argos, and also a 
sacred fountain at Mycenae called Persea. Located outside the 
walls, this was perhaps the spring that filled the citadel's 
underground cistern. He states also that Atreus stored his treasures 
in an underground chamber there, which is why Heinrich 
Schliemann named the largest tholos tomb the Treasury of Atreus. 

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Perseus rescuing Andromeda from Cetus, depicted on 
an amphora in the Altes Museum, Berlin 



Apart from these more historical references, we have only folk-etymology: Perseus dropped his cap or found a 

mushroom (both named myces) at Mycenae, or perhaps the place was named from the lady Mycene, daughter of 

Inachus, mentioned in a now-fragmentary poem, the Megalai Ehoiai. For whatever reasons, perhaps as outposts, 


Perseus fortified Mycenae according to Apollodorus along with Midea, an action that implies that they both 
previously existed. It is unlikely, however, that Apollodorus knew who walled in Mycenae; he was only 
conjecturing. In any case, Perseus took up official residence in Mycenae with Andromeda. 

Descendants of Perseus 

Perseus and Andromeda had seven sons: Perses, Alcaeus, Heleus, 

Mestor, Sthenelus, Electryon, and Cynurus, and two daughters, 

Gorgophone, and Autochthe. Perses was left in Aethiopia and became 

an ancestor of the Persians. The other descendants ruled Mycenae from 

Electryon down to Eurystheus, after whom Atreus got the kingdom. 

However, the Perseids included the great hero, Heracles, stepson of 

Amphitryon, son of Alcaeus. The Heraclides, or descendants of 

Heracles, successfully contested the rule of the Atreids. 

A statement by the Athenian orator, Isocrates helps to date Perseus 

roughly. He said that Heracles was four generations later than Perseus, 

which corresponds to the legendary succession: Perseus, Electryon, 

Alcmena, and Heracles, who was a contemporary of Eurystheus. Atreus was one generation later, a total of five 


Perseus and the head of Medusa in a Roman 
fresco at Stabiae 

Perseus on Pegasus 

The replacement of Bellerophon as the tamer and rider of Pegasus by the more familiar culture hero Perseus was not 
simply an error of painters and poets of the Renaissance. The transition was a development of Classical times which 
became the standard image during the Middle Ages and has been adopted by the European poets of the Renaissance 
and later: Giovanni Boccaccio's Genealogia deorum gentilium libri (10.27) identifies Pegasus as the steed of 
Perseus, and Pierre Corneille places Perseus upon Pegasus in Andromede. Modern representations of this image 
include sculptor Emile Louis Picault's 1888 sculpture, Pegasus. 



Modern uses of the theme and pop culture 

In Hermann Melville's Moby-Dick, the narrator asserts that Perseus 
was the first whaleman, when he killed Cetus to save Andromeda. 
Operatic treatments of the subject include Persee by Lully (1682) and 
Per see et Andromede by Ibert (1921). 

Chimera, the 1972 National Book Award-winning novel by John 
Barth, includes a novella called Perseid that is an inventive, 
postmodern retelling of the myth of Perseus. 

In Rick Riordan's fantasy series Percy Jackson and the Olympians 
(2005—2009), the protagonist Percy Jackson, a son of Poseidon, is 
named after Perseus. 

In film, the myth of Perseus was loosely adapted numerous times. The 
first being the 1963 Italian film Perseus The Invincible (which was 
dubbed and released to the U.S as Medusa Against The Son of Hercules 
in 1964). The second was the 1981 fantasy/adventure film Clash of the 
Titans, and the third was that film's 2010 remake Clash of the Titans, 
which was followed by a sequel called Wrath of the Titans in 2012. 

Perseus was also featured in comics. Outside of a comic book adaptation of the 1981 Clash of the Titans film 

published by Western Publishing and a graphic novel called Perseus: Destiny's Call published in 2012 by 

Campfire Books, the story of Perseus continued in a couple of comic book series from Bluewater Comics. The 

first was the 2007 miniseries Wrath of the Titans, (which also spawned a one-shot comic called Wrath of the 

Titans: Cyclops), while the second is the 201 1 miniseries Wrath of the Titans: Revenge of Medusa. 

In Masami Kurumada's Saint Seiya comic book, which is inspired by Greek myths, the character Perseus Algol is 
one of the warriors known as the Saints of Athena, and he wears an armor known as the Perseus Cloth, which 
represents the mythological figure and also his constellation. 

Perseus saves Andromeda in this painting by 
Edward Burne- Jones 

Argive genealogy in Greek mythology 

Argive genealogy in Greek mythology 



Zeus Io Phoroneus 

Epaphus Memphis 



Belus Achiroe 

Agenor Telephassa 

Danaus Pieria Aegyptus Cadmus Cilix Europa Phoenix 



Harmonia Zeus 












Zeus Danae 

Semele Zeus 




[1] Hofmann, J. B. (1950). Etymologisches Worterbuch des Griechischen. Munich: R. Oldenbourg. 

[2] Herodotus, vii.61 

[3] Herodotus vii. 150 

[4] Kerenyi, Karl (1959). The Heroes of the Greeks. London: Thames and Hudson, p. 45. See also Danaus, the eponymous ancestor. 

[5] "Even thus endured Danae in her beauty to change the light of day for brass-bound walls; and in that chamber, secret as the grave, she was 

held close" (Sophocles, Antigone). In post-Renaissance paintings the setting is often a locked tower. 
[6] Trzaskoma, Stephen; et al (2004). Anthology of classical myth: primary sources in translation. Indianopolis, IN: Hackett. 

ISBN 978-0-87220-721-9. 
[7] Eurymedon: "far-ruling" 
[8] For the familiar motif of the Exposed Child in the account of Moses especially, see Childs, Brevard S. (1965). "The Birth of Moses". Journal 

of Biblical Literature 84 (2): 109-122. JSTOR 3264132. And Redford, Donald B. (1967). "The Literary Motif of the Exposed Child (Cf. Ex. ii 

1-10)". Numen 14 (3): 209—228. doi: 10.2307/3269606. Another example of this mytheme is the Indian figure of Kama. 
[9] Such a banquet, to which each guest brings a gift, was an eranos. The name of Polydectes, "receiver of many", characterizes his role as 

intended host but is also a euphemism for the Lord of the Underworld, as in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter 9, 17. 










Hesiod, Theogony 277 

Ovid, as a Roman writer, uses the Roman names for Poseidon and Athena, "Neptune" and "Minerva" respectively. 

Ovid, Metamorphoses iv, 792-802, Henry Thomas Riley's translation 

"The Myth of Perseus and Medusa", obtained from 

"PERSEUS : Hero ; Greek mythology" obtained from 

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke 2. 37-39. 

For the Greeks, the tamer and first rider of Pegasus was Bellerophon 

Ovid, Metamorphoses 5.1-235. 

Perseus and Andromeda had seven sons: Perseides, Perses, Alcaeus, Heleus, Mestor, Sthenelus, and Electryon, and one daughter, 
Gorgophone. Their descendants also ruled Mycenae, from Electryon down to Eurystheus, after whom Atreus attained the kingdom. Among 
the Perseids was the great hero Heracles. According to this mythology, Perseus is the ancestor of the Persians. 


Argonautica, IV. 

The ironic fulfillment of an oracle through an accident or a concatenation of coincidental circumstances is not a "self-fulfilling prophecy". 

Pausanias, 2.16.2 ( 16.2) 


Metamorphoses, 5.177 

Pausanias, 2.16.3 ( 16.3) 


Hesiod, Megalai Ehoiai fr. 246. 

2.4.4, pros-teichisas, "walling in" 


Johnston, George Burke (1955). "Jonson's 'Perseus upon Pegasus'". The Review of English Studies. New Series 6 (21): 65—67. 
doi:10.1093/res/VI.21.65. JSTOR 510816. 

Melville, Hermann (1851), Moby-Dick. Chapter 82: The Honor and Glory of Whaling 

Clash of the Titans (, Grand Comics Database, accessed June 28, 2011. 

Wrath of the Titans (, Grand Comics Database, accessed June 28, 2011. 

Wrath of the Titans: Cyclops (, Grand Comics Database, accessed June 28, 2011. 

Wrath of the Titans: Revenge of Medusa (, Grand Comics Database, accessed June 28, 201 1. 





Jason (Ancient Greek: 'Idorov, Idson) was an ancient Greek 
mythological hero who was famous for his role as the leader of the 
Argonauts and their quest for the Golden Fleece. He was the son of 
Aeson, the rightful king of Iolcos. He was married to the sorceress 

Jason appeared in various literature in the classical world of Greece 
and Rome, including the epic poem Argonautica and tragedy, Medea. 
In the modern world, Jason has emerged as a character in various 
adaptations of his myths, such as the 1963 film Jason and the 
Argonauts and the 2000 TV miniseries of the same name. 

Jason has connections outside of the classical world, as he is seen as being the mythical founder of the city of 
Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. 

Jason landing in Colchis - as depicted in a 17th 
century painting. 

Early years 


Jason's father is invariably Aeson, but there is great variation as to his mother's name. According to various authors, 
she could be: 


Alcimede, daughter of Phylacus 

Polymede, orPolymele, orPolypheme, a daughter of Autolycus 



Theognete, daughter of Laodicus 
Rhoeo [6] 


Jason was also said to have had a younger brother Promachus and a sister Hippolyte, who married Acastus (see 

Arne or Scarphe 

on was als 

Prosecution by Pelias 

Pelias (Aeson's half-brother) was very power-hungry, and he wished to gain dominion over all of Thessaly. Pelias 
was the product of a union between their shared mother, Tyro ("high born Tyro") the daughter of Salmoneus, and 
allegedly the sea god Poseidon. In a bitter feud, he overthrew Aeson (the rightful king), killing all the descendants of 
Aeson that he could. He spared his half-brother for unknown reasons. Alcimede I (wife of Aeson) already had an 
infant son named Jason whom she saved from being killed by Pelias, by having women cluster around the newborn 
and cry as if he were still-born. Alcimede sent her son to the centaur Chiron for education, for fear that Pelias would 
kill him — she claimed that she had been having an affair with him all along. Pelias, still fearful that he would one 
day be overthrown, consulted an oracle which warned him to beware of a man with one sandal. 

Many years later, Pelias was holding games in honor of the sea god and his alleged father, Poseidon, when Jason 
arrived in Iolcus and lost one of his sandals in the river Anauros ("wintry Anauros"), while helping an old woman to 
cross (the Goddess Hera in disguise). She blessed him for she knew, as goddesses do, what Pelias had up his sleeve. 
When Jason entered Iolcus (modern-day city of Volos), he was announced as a man wearing one sandal. Jason, 



knowing that he was the rightful king, told Pelias that and Pelias said, "To take my throne, which you shall, you must 
go on a quest to find the Golden Fleece." Jason happily accepted the quest. 

The Quest for the Golden Fleece 

Jason assembled a great group of heroes, known as the 
Argonauts after their ship, the Argo. The group of heroes 
included the Boreads (sons of Boreas, the North Wind) who 
could fly, Heracles, Philoctetes, Peleus, Telamon, Orpheus, 
Castor and Pollux, Atalanta, and Euphemus. 

The Isle of Lemnos 

The isle of Lemnos is situated off the Western coast of Asia 
Minor (modern day Turkey). The island was inhabited by a 
race of women who had killed their husbands. The women 
had neglected their worship of Aphrodite, and as a 
punishment the goddess made the women so foul in stench 
that their husbands could not bear to be near them. The men 
then took concubines from the Thracian mainland opposite, 
and the spurned women, angry at Aphrodite, killed all the 
male inhabitants while they slept. The king, Thoas, was 
saved by Hypsipyle, his daughter, who put him out to sea 
sealed in a chest from which he was later rescued. The 
women of Lemnos lived for a while without men, with 
Hypsipyle as their queen. 

Jason bringing Pelias the Golden Fleece, Apulian red-figure 
calyx krater, ca. 340 BC-330 BC, Louvre 

During the visit of the Argonauts the women mingled with 

the men creating a new "race" called Minyae. Jason fathered twins with the queen. Heracles pressured them to leave 

as he was disgusted by the antics of the Argonauts. He had not taken part, which is truly unusual considering the 

numerous affairs he had with other women. 



After Lemnos the Argonauts landed among the Doliones, whose king Cyzicus treated them graciously. He told them 
about the land beyond Bear Mountain, but forgot to mention what lived there. What lived in the land beyond Bear 
Mountain were the Gegeines which are a tribe of Earthborn giants with six arms and wore leather loincloths. While 
most of the crew went into the forest to search for supplies, the Gegeines saw that a few Argonauts were guarding 
the ship and raided it. Heracles was among those guarding the ship at the time and managed to kill most them until 
Jason and the others returned. Once some of the other Gegeines were killed, Jason and the Argonauts set sail. 

Sometime after their fight with the Gegeines, they sent some men to find food and water. Among these men was 
Heracles' servant Hylas who was gathering water while Heracles was out finding some wood to carve a new oar to 
replace the one that broke. The nymphs of the stream where Hylas was collecting were attracted to his good looks, 
and pulled him into the stream. Heracles returned to his Labors, but Hylas was lost forever. Others say that Heracles 
went to Colchis with the Argonauts, got the Golden Girdle of the Amazons and slew the Stymphalian Birds at that 

The Argonauts departed, losing their bearings and landing again at the same spot that night. In the darkness, the 
Doliones took them for enemies and they started fighting each other. The Argonauts killed many of the Doliones, 



among them the king Cyzicus. Cyzicus' wife killed herself. The Argonauts realized their horrible mistake when dawn 
came and held a funeral for him. 

Phineas and the Harpies 

Soon Jason reached the court of Phineus of Salmydessus in Thrace. Zeus had sent the Harpies to steal the food put 
out for Phineas each day. Jason took pity on the emaciated king and killed the Harpies when they returned; in other 
versions, Calais and Zetes chase the Harpies away. In return for this favor, Phineas revealed to Jason the location of 
Colchis and how to pass the Symplegades, or The Clashing Rocks, and then they parted. 

The Symplegades 

The only way to reach Colchis was to sail through the Symplegades (Clashing Rocks), huge rock cliffs that came 
together and crushed anything that traveled between them. Phineas told Jason to release a dove when they 
approached these islands, and if the dove made it through, to row with all their might. If the dove was crushed, he 
was doomed to fail. Jason released the dove as advised, which made it through, losing only a few tail feathers. 
Seeing this, they rowed strongly and made it through with minor damage at the extreme stern of the ship. From that 
time on, the clashing rocks were forever joined leaving free passage for others to pass. 

The arrival in Colchis 

Jason arrived in Colchis (modern Black Sea coast of 

Georgia) to claim the fleece as his own. It was owned 

by King Aeetes of Colchis. The fleece was given to 

him by Phrixus. Aeetes promised to give it to Jason 

only if he could perform three certain tasks. Presented 

with the tasks, Jason became discouraged and fell into 

depression. However, Hera had persuaded Aphrodite to 

convince her son Eros to make Aeetes's daughter, 

Medea, fall in love with Jason. As a result, Medea 

aided Jason in his tasks. First, Jason had to plow a field 

with fire-breathing oxen, the Khalkotauroi, that he had 

to yoke himself. Medea provided an ointment that 

protected him from the oxen's flames. Then, Jason 

sowed the teeth of a dragon into a field. The teeth 

sprouted into an army of warriors. Medea had 

previously warned Jason of this and told him how to 

defeat this foe. Before they attacked him, he threw a 

rock into the crowd. Unable to discover where the rock 

had come from, the soldiers attacked and defeated one another. His last task was to overcome the sleepless dragon 

which guarded the Golden Fleece. Jason sprayed the dragon with a potion, given by Medea, distilled from herbs. The 

dragon fell asleep, and Jason was able to seize the Golden Fleece. He then sailed away with Medea. Medea distracted 

her father, who chased them as they fled, by killing her brother Apsyrtus and throwing pieces of his body into the 

sea; Aeetes stopped to gather them. In another version, Medea lured Apsyrtus into a trap. Jason killed him, chopped 

off his fingers and toes, and buried the corpse. In any case, Jason and Medea escaped. 

Jason and the Snake 

Jason 49 

The return journey 

On the way back to Iolcus, Medea prophesied to Euphemus, the Argo's helmsman, that one day he would rule 
Cyrene. This came true through Battus, a descendant of Euphemus. Zeus, as punishment for the slaughter of Medea's 
own brother, sent a series of storms at the Argo and blew it off course. The Argo then spoke and said that they should 
seek purification with Circe, a nymph living on the island of Aeaea. After being cleansed, they continued their 
journey home. 


Chiron had told Jason that without the aid of Orpheus, the Argonauts would never be able to pass the Sirens — the 
same Sirens encountered by Odysseus in Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. The Sirens lived on three small, rocky 
islands called Sirenum scopuli and sang beautiful songs that enticed sailors to come to them, which resulted in the 
crashing of their ship into the islands. When Orpheus heard their voices, he drew his lyre and played music that was 
more beautiful and louder, drowning out the Sirens' bewitching songs. 


The Argo then came to the island of Crete, guarded by the bronze man, Talos. As the ship approached, Talos hurled 
huge stones at the ship, keeping it at bay. Talos had one blood vessel which went from his neck to his ankle, bound 
shut by only one bronze nail (as in metal casting by the lost wax method). Medea cast a spell on Talos to calm him; 
she removed the bronze nail and Talos bled to death. The Argo was then able to sail on. 

Jason returns 

Medea, using her sorcery, claimed to Pelias' daughters that she could make their father younger by chopping him up 
into pieces and boiling the pieces in a cauldron of water and magical herbs. She demonstrated this remarkable feat 
with a sheep, which leapt out of the cauldron as a lamb. The girls, rather naively, sliced and diced their father and put 
him in the cauldron. Medea did not add the magical herbs, and Pelias was dead. 

It should be noted that Thomas Bulfinch has an antecedent to the interaction of Medea and the daughters of Pelias. 
Jason, celebrating his return with the Golden Fleece, noted that his father was too aged and infirm to participate in 
the celebrations. He had seen and been served by Medea's magical powers. He asked Medea to take some years from 
his life and add them to the life of his father. She did so, but at no such cost to Jason's life. Pelias' daughters saw this 
and wanted the same service for their father. Pelias' son, Acastus, drove Jason and Medea into exile for the murder, 
and the couple settled in Corinth. 

Treachery of Jason 

In Corinth, Jason became engaged to marry Creusa (sometimes referred to as Glauce), a daughter of the King of 
Corinth, to strengthen his political ties. When Medea confronted Jason about the engagement and cited all the help 
she had given him, he retorted that it was not she that he should thank, but Aphrodite who made Medea fall in love 
with him. Infuriated with Jason for breaking his vow that he would be hers forever, Medea took her revenge by 
presenting to Creusa a cursed dress, as a wedding gift, that stuck to her body and burned her to death as soon as she 
put it on. Creusa's father, Creon, burned to death with his daughter as he tried to save her. Then Medea killed the two 
boys that she bore to Jason, fearing that they would be murdered or enslaved as a result of their mother's actions. 
When Jason came to know of this, Medea was already gone; she fled to Athens in a chariot sent by her grandfather, 
the sun-god Helios. 

Later Jason and Peleus, father of the hero Achilles, attacked and defeated Acastus, reclaiming the throne of Iolcus for 
himself once more. Jason's son, Thessalus, then became king. 



As a result of breaking his vow to love Medea forever, Jason lost his favor with Hera and died lonely and unhappy. 
He was asleep under the stern of the rotting Argo when it fell on him, killing him instantly. 

In literature 

Though some of the episodes of Jason's story draw on ancient 
material, the definitive telling, on which this account relies, is that of 
Apollonius of Rhodes in his epic poem Argonautica, written in 
Alexandria in the late 3rd century BC. 

Another Argonautica was written by Gaius Valerius Flaccus in the 
late 1st century AD, eight books in length. The poem ends abruptly 
with the request of Medea to accompany Jason on his homeward 
voyage. It is unclear if part of the epic poem has been lost, or if it 
was never finished. A third version is the Argonautica Orphica, 
which emphasizes the role of Orpheus in the story. 

Jason is briefly mentioned in Dante's Divine Comedy in the poem 
Inferno. He appears in the Canto XVIII. In it, he is seen by Dante 
and his guide Virgil being punished in Hell's Eighth Circle (Bolgia 
1) by being driven to march through the circle for all eternity while 
being whipped by devils. He is included among the panderers and 
seducers (possibly for his seduction and subsequent abandoning of 

The story of Medea's revenge on Jason is told with devastating effect 
by Euripides in his tragedy Medea. 

The mythical geography of the voyage of the Argonauts has been 



Jason with the Golden Fleece, Bertel Thorvaldsen's 
first masterpiece. 

connected to specific geographic locations by Livio Stecchini 
his theories have not been widely adopted. 

Popular culture 

Jason appeared in the Hercules episode "Hercules and the Argonauts" voiced by William Shatner. He is shown to 
have been a student of Philoctetes and takes his advice to let Hercules travel with him. 

In The Heroes of Olympus story "The Lost Hero," there was a reference to the mythical Jason when Jason Grace and 
his friends encounter Medea. 


[I] Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica. 1. 45 ff, 233, 251 ff 
[2] Hyginus, Fabulae, 3, 13, 14 

[3] Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica, 1.297 

[4] Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, 1. 9. 16 

[5] Tzetzes on Lycophron, 175 & 872 

[6] Tzetzes, Chiliades, 6. 979 

[7] Scholia on Homer, Odyssey, 12. 69 

[8] Scholia on Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 1. 45 

[9] Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 4. 50. 2 

[10] Tzetzes on Lycophron, 872 

[II] Scholia on Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 1. 287 

[12] Note: In "Hercules, My Shipmate" Robert Graves claims that Heracles fathered more children than anyone else of the crew. 



[13] The Voyage of the Argo ( 



• Publius Ovidius Naso. Metamorphoses. 

• Powell, B. The Voyage of the Argo. In Classical Myth. Upper Saddle River, NJ. Prentice Hall. 2001. 
pp. 477-489. 

• Alain Moreau (, Le Mythe de Jason et 
Medee. Le Va-nu-pied et la Sorciere. Paris : Les Belles Lettres, collection « Verite des mythes », 2006 (ISBN 10 

• Bulfinch's Mythology, Medea and Aeson. 

• King, David. Finding Atlantis: a true story of genius, madness, and an extraordinary quest for a lost world. 
Harmony Books, New York, 1970. (Based on works of Olof Rudbeck 1630-1702.) 

External links 

• Timeless Myths - Argonauts (, a summary of Jason 
and his Quest for the Golden Fleece 

• Argonautica ( at Project Gutenberg 


Oedipus (US 4 /'edlpes/ or UK /'ildlpes/; Ancient Greek: 
OlSbtoiK; Oidipous meaning "swollen foot") was a mythical Greek 
king of Thebes. He fulfilled a prophecy that said he would kill his 
father and marry his mother, and thereby brought disaster on his 
city and family. This legend has been retold in many versions, and 
was used by Sigmund Freud to name the Oedipus complex. 

Basics of the myth 

There are many different versions of the legend of Oedipus due to 
its oral tradition. Significant variations on the legend of Oedipus 
are mentioned in fragments by several ancient Greek poets 
including Homer, Hesiod, Pindar, Aeschylus and Euripides. 
However, the most popular version of the legend comes from the 
set of Theban plays by Sophocles: Oedipus the King, Oedipus at 
Colonus, and Antigone. 

Oedipus was the son of Laius and Jocasta, king and queen of 


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Oedipus explains the riddle of the Sphinx, by 


Auguste Dominique Ingres, c. 1805 

After having been married some time without children, Laius consulted the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi. The Oracle 
prophesied that any son born to Laius would kill him. In an attempt to prevent this prophecy's fulfillment, when 

Oedipus 52 

Jocasta indeed bore a son, Laius had his ankles pinned together so that he could not crawl; Jocasta then gave the boy 
to a servant to abandon ("expose") on the nearby mountain. However, rather than leave the child to die of exposure, 
as Laius intended, the sympathetic servant passed the baby onto a shepherd from Corinth and then to another 

Oedipus the infant eventually came to the house of Polybus, king of Corinth and his queen, Merope, who adopted 
him as they were without children of their own. Little Oedipus/Oidipous was named after the swelling from the 
injuries to his feet and ankles. The word "oedema" (British English) or "edema" (American English) is from this 
same Greek word for swelling: oX6r\yta, or oedema. 

After many years of being son of the king and queen of Corinth, Oedipus was told by a drunk that he had in fact been 
adopted by them. Oedipus confronted his parents with the news, but they denied every word. Oedipus sent word for 
the same Oracle in Delphi his birth parents consulted. The Oracle did not tell him he was son of the king and queen 
of Thebes, but instead informed him he was destined to murder his father and marry his mother. In his attempt to 
avoid the fate predicted by the Oracle, he decided to not return home to Corinth. Oedipus decided to travel all the 
way to Thebes, as it was near Delphi. 

As Oedipus traveled, he came to Davlia, where three roads crossed each other. There he encountered a chariot driven 
by his birth-father, King Laius. They fought over who had the right to go first and Oedipus killed Laius in self 
defense, unwittingly fulfilling part of the prophecy. The only witness of the King's death was a slave who fled from a 
caravan of slaves also traveling on the road at the time. 

Continuing his journey to Thebes, Oedipus encountered a Sphinx, who would stop all travelers to Thebes and ask 
them a riddle. If the travelers were unable to answer her correctly, they would be killed and eaten; if they were 
successful, they would be free to continue on their journey. The riddle was: "What walks on four feet in the morning, 
two in the afternoon and three at night?". Oedipus answered: "Man: as an infant, he crawls on all fours; as an adult, 
he walks on two legs and; in old age, he uses a 'walking' stick". Oedipus was the first to answer the riddle correctly 
and, having heard Oedipus' answer, the Sphinx was astounded and inexplicably killed herself by throwing herself 
into the sea, freeing Thebes from her harsh rule. 

The people of Thebes gratefully appointed Oedipus as their king and gave him the recently widowed Queen Jocasta's 
hand in marriage. The marriage of Oedipus to Jocasta fulfilled the rest of the prophecy. Oedipus and Jocasta had four 
children: two sons, Eteocles and Polynices (see Seven Against Thebes), and two daughters, Antigone and Ismene. 

Many years after the marriage of Oedipus and Jocasta, a plague of infertility struck the city of Thebes; crops no 
longer grew on the fields and women did not bear children. Oedipus, in his hubris, asserted that he would end the 
pestilence. He sent Creon, Jocasta's brother, to the Oracle at Delphi, seeking guidance. When Creon returned, 
Oedipus heard that the murderer of the former King Laius must be found and either be killed or exiled. Creon also 
suggested that they try to find the blind prophet, Tiresias. In a search for the identity of the killer, Oedipus followed 
Creon's suggestion and sent for Tiresias, who warned him not to seek Laius' killer. In a heated exchange, Tiresias 
was provoked into exposing Oedipus himself as the killer, and the fact that Oedipus was living in shame because he 
did not know who his true parents were. Oedipus angrily blamed Creon for the false accusations, and the two 
proceeded to argue fervently. Jocasta entered and tried to calm Oedipus by telling him the story of her first-born son 
and his supposed death. Oedipus became nervous as he realized that he may have murdered Laius and so brought 
about the plague. Suddenly, a messenger arrived from Corinth with the news that King Polybus had died. Oedipus 
was relieved concerning the prophecy for it could no longer be fulfilled if Polybus, whom he considered his birth 
father, was now dead. 

Still, he knew that his mother was still alive and refused to attend the funeral at Corinth. To ease the tension, the 
messenger then said that Oedipus was, in fact, adopted. Jocasta, finally realizing that he was her son, begged him to 
stop his search for Laius' murderer. Oedipus misunderstood the motivation of her pleas, thinking that she was 
ashamed of him because he might have been born of a slave. Jocasta then went into the palace where she hanged 
herself. Oedipus sought verification of the messenger's story from the very same herdsman who was supposed to 



have left Oedipus to die as a baby. From the herdsman, Oedipus learned that the infant raised as the adopted son of 
Polybus and Merope was the son of Laius and Jocasta. Thus, Oedipus finally realized in great agony that so many 
years ago, at the place where the three roads met, he had killed his own father, King Laius, and subsequently married 
his mother, Jocasta. 

Events after the revelation depend on the source. In Sophocles' plays, Oedipus went in search of Jocasta and found 
she had killed herself. Using the pin from a brooch he took off Jocasta's gown, Oedipus stabbed his own eyes out, 
and was then exiled. His daughter Antigone acted as his guide as he wandered blindly through the country, finally 
perishing at Colonus after being placed under the protection of Athens by King Theseus. However, in Euripides' 
plays on the subject, Jocasta did not kill herself upon learning of Oedipus' birth, and Oedipus was blinded by a 
servant of Laius. The blinding of Oedipus does not appear in sources earlier than Aeschylus. Some older sources of 
the myth, including Homer, state that Oedipus continued to rule Thebes after the revelations and after Jocasta's 

Oedipus' two sons, Eteocles and Polynices, arranged to share the kingdom, each taking an alternating one-year reign. 
However, Eteocles refused to cede his throne after his year as king. Polynices brought in an army to oust Eteocles 
from his position and a battle ensued. At the end of the battle the brothers killed each other after which Jocasta's 
brother, Creon, took the throne. He decided that Polynices was a "traitor," and should not be given burial rites. 
Defying this edict, Antigone attempted to bury her brother. In Sophocles' Antigone, Creon had her buried in a rock 
cavern for defying him, whereupon she hanged herself. However, in Euripides' lost version of the story, it appears 
that Antigone survives. 

5th century BC 



Pottery, gold 

Period/culture Attic 

Place Polis-tis-Chrysokhou, tomb, Cyprus 

Present location Room 72, British Museum 

Identification m70mA6 M 

Most writing on Oedipus comes from the 5th century BC, though the stories deal mostly with Oedipus' downfall. 
Various details appear on how Oedipus rose to power. 

Laius hears of a prophecy that his son will kill him. Fearing the prophecy, Laius pierces Oedipus' feet and leaves 

him out to die, but a herdsman finds him and takes him away from Thebes. Oedipus, not knowing he was adopted, 

leaves home in fear of the same prophecy that he will kill his father and marry his mother. Laius, meanwhile, 

Oedipus 54 

ventures out to find a solution to the Sphinx's riddle. As prophesied, Oedipus crosses paths with Laius and this 
leads to a fight where Oedipus slays Laius and most of his guards. Oedipus then defeats the Sphinx by solving a 
mysterious riddle to become king. He marries the widow queen Jocasta not knowing she is his mother. A plague 


falls on the people of Thebes. Upon discovery of the truth, Oedipus blinds himself and Jocasta hangs herself. After 
Oedipus is no longer king, Oedipus' sons kill each other. 

Some differences with older stories emerge. The curse of the Oedipus' sons is expanded backward to include 
Oedipus and his father, Laius. Oedipus now steps down from the throne instead of dying in battle. Additionally, 
rather than his children being by a second wife, Oedipus' children are now by Jocasta. 

Pindar's Second Olympian Ode 

In the Second Olympians Ode Pindar wrote: Laius' tragic son, crossing his father's path, killed him and fulfilled the 
oracle spoken of old at Pytho. And sharp-eyed Erinys saw and slew his warlike children at each other's hands. Yet 
Thersandros survived fallen Polyneikes and won honor in youthful contests and the brunt of war, a scion of aid to 
the house of Adrastos.. 

Aeschylus' Oedipus trilogy 

In 467 BC the Athenian playwright, Aeschylus, is known to have presented an entire trilogy based upon the Oedipus 
myth, winning the first prize at the City Dionysia. The First play was Laius, the second was Oedipus, and the third 
was Seven against Thebes. Only the third play survives, in which Oedipus' sons Eteocles and Polynices kill each 
other warring over the throne. Much like his Oresteia, this trilogy would have detailed the tribulations of a House 
over three successive generations. The satyr play that followed the trilogy was called the Sphinx. 

Sophocles' Oedipus the King 

As Sophocles' Oedipus the King begins, the people of Thebes are begging the king for help, begging him to discover 
the cause of the plague. Oedipus stands before them and swears to find the root of their suffering and to end it. Just 
then, Creon returns to Thebes from a visit to the oracle. Apollo has made it known that Thebes is harboring a terrible 
abomination and that the plague will only be lifted when the true murderer of old King Laius is discovered and 
punished for his crime. Oedipus swears to do this, not realizing of course that he himself is the abomination that he 
has sworn to exorcise. The stark truth emerges slowly over the course of the play, as Oedipus clashes with the blind 
seer Tiresias, who senses the truth. Oedipus remains in strict denial, though, becoming convinced that Tiresias is 
somehow plotting with Creon to usurp the throne. 

Realization begins to slowly dawn in Scene II of the play when Jocasta mentions out of hand that Laius was slain at 
a place where three roads meet. This stirs something in Oedipus' memory and he suddenly remembers the men that 
he fought and killed one day long ago at a place where three roads met. He realizes, horrified, that he might be the 
man he's seeking. One household servant survived the attack and now lives out his old age in a frontier district of 
Thebes. Oedipus sends immediately for the man to either confirm or deny his guilt. At the very worst, though, he 
expects to find himself to be the unsuspecting murderer of a man unknown to him. The truth has not yet been made 

The moment of epiphany comes late in the play. At the beginning of Scene III, Oedipus is still waiting for the 
servant to be brought into the city, when a messenger arrives from Corinth to declare the King Polybus is dead. 
Oedipus, when he hears this news is overwhelmed with relief, because he believed that Polybus was the father whom 
the oracle had destined him to murder, and he momentarily believes himself to have escaped fate. He tells this all to 
the present company, including the messenger, but the messenger knows that it is not true. He is the man who found 
Oedipus as a baby in the pass of Kithairon and gave him to King Polybus to raise. He reveals, furthermore that the 
servant who is being brought to the city as they speak is the very same man who took Oedipus up into the mountains 
as a baby. Jocasta realizes now all that has happened. She begs Oedipus not to pursue the matter further. He refuses, 

Oedipus 55 

and she withdraws into the palace as the servant is arriving. The old man arrives, and it is clear at once that he knows 
everything. At the behest of Oedipus, he tells it all. 

Overwhelmed with the knowledge of all his crimes, Oedipus rushes into the palace, where he finds his mother, his 
wife, dead by her own hand. Ripping a brooch from her dress, Oedipus blinds himself with it. Bleeding from the 
eyes, he begs Creon, who has just arrived on the scene, to exile him forever from Thebes. Creon agrees to this 
request, Oedipus begs to hold his two daughters Antigone and Ismene with his hands one more time to have their fill 
of tears and Creon out of pity sends the girls in to see Oedipus one more time. 

Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus 

In Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus, Oedipus becomes a wanderer, 
pursued by Creon and his men. He finally finds refuge at the holy 
wilderness right outside of Athens, where it is said that Theseus took 
care of the two of them, Oedipus and his daughter, Antigone. Creon 
eventually catches up to Oedipus. He asks Oedipus to come back from 
Colonus to bless his son, Eteocles. Angry that his son did not love him 
enough to take care of him, he curses both Eteocles and his brother, 
condemning both to sudden deaths. Oedipus dies a peaceful death; his 
grave is said to be sacred to the gods. 

Sophocles' Antigone 

Oedipus at Colonus 

In Sophocles' Antigone, when Oedipus stepped down as king of Thebes, he gave the kingdom to his two sons, 
Eteocles and Polynices, both of whom agreed to alternate the throne every year. However, they showed no concern 
for their father, who cursed them for their negligence. After the first year, Eteocles refused to step down and 
Polynices attacked Thebes with his supporters (as portrayed in the Seven Against Thebes by Aeschylus and the 
Phoenician Women by Euripides). Both brothers died in the battle. King Creon, who ascended to the throne of 
Thebes, decreed that Polynices was not to be buried. Antigone, Polynices' sister, defied the order, but was caught. 
Creon decreed that she was to be put into a stone box in the ground, this in spite of her betrothal to his son Haemon. 
Antigone's sister, Ismene, then declared she had aided Antigone and wanted the same fate, but Creon eventually 
declined executing her. The gods, through the blind prophet Tiresias, expressed their disapproval of Creon's decision, 
which convinced him to rescind his order, and he went to bury Polynices himself. However, Antigone had already 
hanged herself in her tomb, rather than suffering the slow death of being buried alive. When Creon arrived at the 
tomb where she had been interred, his son Haemon attacked him upon seeing the body of his deceased fiancee, but 
failing to kill Creon he killed himself. When Creon's wife, Eurydice, was informed of the death of Haemon, she too 
took her own life. 

Euripides' Phoenissae, Chrysippus and Oedipus 

In the beginning of Euripides' Phoenissae, Jocasta recalls the story of Oedipus. Generally, the play weaves together 
the plots of the Seven Against Thebes and Antigone. The play differs from the other tales in two major respects. First, 
it describes in detail why Laius and Oedipus had a feud: Laius ordered Oedipus out of the road so his chariot could 
pass, but proud Oedipus refused to move. Second, in the play Jocasta has not killed herself at the discovery of her 
incest - otherwise she could not play the prologue, for fathomable reasons - nor has Oedipus fled into exile, but they 
have stayed in Thebes only to delay their doom until the fatal duel of their sons/brothers/nephews Eteocles and 
Polynices: Jocasta commits suicide over the two men's dead bodies, and Antigone follows Oedipus into exile. 

In Chrysippus, Euripides develops backstory on the curse: Laius' "sin" was to have kidnapped Chrysippus, Pelops' 
son, in order to violate him, and this caused the gods' revenge on all his family - boy-loving having been so far an 

Oedipus 56 

exclusive of the gods themselves, unknown to mortals. 

Euripides wrote also an Oedipus, of which only a few fragments survive. The first line of the prologue recalled 
Laius' hubristic action of conceiving a son against Apollo's command. At some point in the action of the play, a 
character engaged in a lengthy and detailed description of the Sphinx and her riddle - preserved in five fragments 
from Oxyrhynchus, P.Oxy. 2459 (published by Eric Gardner Turner in 1962). The tragedy featured also many 
moral maxims on the theme of marriage, preserved in the Anthologion of Stobaeus. The most striking lines, 
however, state that in this play Oedipus was blinded by Laius' attendants, and that this happened before his identity 
as Laius' son had been discovered, therefore marking important differences with the Sophoclean treatment of the 
myth, which is now regarded as the 'standard' version. Many attempts have been made to reconstruct the plot of the 
play, but none of them is more than hypothetical, because of the scanty remains that survive from its text and of the 
total absence of ancient descriptions or resumes - though it has been suggested that a part of Hyginus' narration of 
the Oedipus myth might in fact derive from Euripides' play. Some echoes of the Euripidean Oedipus have been 
traced also in a scene of Seneca's Oedipus (see below), in which Oedipus himself describes to Jocasta his adventure 


with the Sphinx. 

Other playwrights 

At least three other 5th century BC authors who were younger than Sophocles wrote plays about Oedipus. These 


include Achaeus of Eretria, Nichomachus and the elder Xenocles. 

Later additions 

The Bibliotheca, a Roman-era mythological handbook, includes a riddle for the Sphinx, borrowing the poetry of 

What is that which has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed? 

Later addition to Aeschylus' Seven against Thebes 

Due to the popularity of Sophocles's Antigone (c. 442 BC), the ending (lines 1005-78) of Seven against Thebes was 
added some fifty years after Aeschylus' death. Whereas the play (and the trilogy of which it is the last play) was 
meant to end with somber mourning for the dead brothers, the spurious ending features a herald announcing the 
prohibition against burying Polyneices, and Antigone's declaration that she will defy that edict 

Oedipus in post-Classical literature 

Oedipus was a figure who was also used in the Latin literature of ancient Rome. Julius Caesar wrote a play on 
Oedipus, but it has not survived into modern times. Ovid included Oedipus in Metamorphoses, but only as the 
person who defeated the Sphinx. He makes no mention of Oedipus' troubled experiences with his father and mother. 
Seneca the Younger wrote his own play on the story of Oedipus in the first century AD. It differs in significant ways 
from the work of Sophocles. 

Seneca's play on the myth was intended to be recited at private gatherings and not actually performed. It has however 
been successfully staged since the Renaissance. It was adapted by John Dryden in his very successful heroic drama 
Oedipus, licensed in 1678. The 1718 Oedipus was also the first play written by Voltaire. A version of Oedipus by 
Frank McGuinness was performed at the National Theatre in late 2008, starring Ralph Fiennes and Claire Higgins. 

In 1960, Immanuel Velikovsky (1895—1979) published a book called Oedipus and Akhnaton which made a 
comparison between the stories of the legendary Greek figure, Oedipus, and the historic Egyptian King of Thebes, 
Akhnaton. The book is presented as a thesis that combines with Velikovsky's series Ages in Chaos, concluding 
through his revision of Egyptian history that the Greeks who wrote the tragedy of Oedipus may have penned it in 
likeness of the life and story of Akhnaton, because in the revision Akhnaton would have lived much closer to the 

Oedipus 57 

time when the legend first surfaced in Greece, providing an historical basis for the story. Each of the major 
characters in the Greek story are identified with the people involved in Akhnaton's family and court, and some 
interesting parallels are drawn. 

Oedipus or Oedipais? 

It has been suggested by some that in the earliest Ur-myth of the hero, he was called Oedipais: "child of the swollen 
sea." He was so named because of the method by which his birth parents tried to abandon him — by placing him in 
a chest and tossing it into the ocean. The mythic topos of forsaking a child to the sea or a river is well attested, found 
(e.g.) in the myths of Perseus, Telephus, Dionysus, Romulus and Remus and Moses. Over the centuries, however, 
Oedipais seems to have been corrupted into the familiar Oedipus: "swollen foot." And it was this new name that 
might have inspired the addition of a bizarre element to the story of Oedipus' abandonment on Mt. Cithaeron. 
Exposure on a mountain was in fact a common method of child abandonment in Ancient Greece. The binding of 
baby Oedipus' ankles, however, is unique; it can thus be argued that the ankle-binding was inelegantly grafted onto 
the Oedipus myth simply to explain his new name. 

The Oedipus complex 

Sigmund Freud used the name The Oedipus complex to explain the origin of certain neuroses in childhood. It is 
defined as a male child's unconscious desire for the exclusive love of his mother. This desire includes jealousy 
towards the father and the unconscious wish for that parent's death, as well as the unconscious desire for sexual 
intercourse with the mother. Oedipus himself, as portrayed in the myth, did not suffer from this neurosis — at least, 
not towards Jocasta, whom he only met as an adult (if anything, such feelings would have been directed at Merope — 
but there is no hint of that). Freud reasoned that the ancient Greek audience, which heard the story told or saw the 
plays based on it, did know that Oedipus was actually killing his father and marrying his mother; the story being 


continually told and played therefore reflected a preoccupation with the theme. 

The term oedipism is used in medicine for serious self inflicted eye injury, an extremely rare form of severe 


[2] Euripides, Phoenissae 

[3] Sophocles, Oedipus the King 1220-1226; Euripides, Phoenissae 
[4] Sophocles, Oedipus the King 1026-1030; Euripides, Phoenissae 
[5] Sophocles, Oedipus the King 132-137 

[6] Pindar, Second Olympian Ode; Sophocles, Oedipus the King 473-488; Euripides, Phoenissae 
[7] Sophocles, Oedipus the King 136, 1578; Euripides, Phoenissae 
[8] Sophocles, Oedipus the King 1316 
[9] Pindar, Second Olympian Ode 

[10] R. Kannicht, Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta (TrGF) vol. 5.1, Gottingen 2004; see also F. Jouan - H. Van Looy, "Euripide. tome 8.2 - 
Fragments", Paris 2000 

[II] Reviewed by Hugh Lloyd- Jones in "Gnomon" 35 (1963), pp. 446-447 
[12] Joachim Dingel, in "Museum Helveticum" 27 (1970), 90-96 

[13] Burian, P. (2009). "Inconclusive Conclusion: the Ending(s) of Oedipus Tyrannus" . In Goldhill, S. & Hall, E.. Sophocles and the Greek 

Tragic Tradition. Cambridge University Press, p. 100. ISBN 978-0-521-88785-4. 

[14] Bihliotheca III.5.7 

[15] See (e.g.) Brown 1976, 206-19. 

[16] E.F. Watling's Introduction to Seneca: Four Tragedies and Octavia 

[17] See (e.g.) Lowry 1995, 879; Carloni/Nobili 2004, 147 n.l. 

[18] This version of the Oedipus myth is in fact attested in some scholia (at lines 13 and 26) to Euripides' Phoenician Women. 

[19] Bruno Bettelheim (1983). Freud and Man's Soul. Knopf. ISBN 0-394-52481-0. 




• Brown, A.L. "The End of the Seven against Thebes" The Classical Quarterly 26.2 (1976) 206-19. 

• Carloni, Glauco and Nobili, Daniela. La Mamma Cattiva: fenomenologia, antropologia e clinica del figlicidio 
(Rimini, 2004). 

• Dallas, Ian, Oedipus and Dionysus, Freiburg Press, Granada 1991. ISBN 1-874216-02-9. 

• Graves, Robert, The Greek Myths 

• Lowry, Malcolm. Sursum Cordal: The Collected Letters of Malcolm Lowry (Toronto, 1995). 

• Rotimi, Ola. The Gods are Not to Blame, Three Crown Books, Nigeria 1974. 

• Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Oe'dipus" (http:// 
www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04.0 104:alphabetic+letter=O:entry+ 

group=2 : entry=oedipus -bio- 1 ) 


Orpheus ( 4) /'orfi:9s/ or/'orfju:s/; Ancient 
Greek: 'Opcpeix;) was a legendary musician, 
poet, and prophet in ancient Greek religion 
and myth. The major stories about him are 
centered on his ability to charm all living 
things and even stones with his music, his 
attempt to retrieve his wife, Eurydice, from 
the underworld, and his death at the hands 
of those who could not hear his divine 
music. As an archetype of the inspired 
singer, Orpheus is one of the most 
significant figures in the reception of 
classical mythology in Western culture, 
portrayed or alluded to in countless forms of 
art and popular culture including poetry, 

opera, and painting 


For the Greeks, Orpheus was a founder and 
prophet of the so-called "Orphic" mysteries. 
He was credited with the composition of the 
Orphic Hymns, a collection of which 
survives. Shrines containing purported 
relics of Orpheus were regarded as oracles. 
Some ancient Greek sources note Orpheus's Thracian origins. 

fcaa a uaMi k vM Jd toJk ^^ 

Roman mosaic depicting Orpheus, wearing a Phrygian cap and surrounded by the 
beasts charmed by the music of his lyre. 





The earliest literary reference to Orpheus is a two-word fragment of the 
sixth-century BCE lyric poet Ibycus: onomaklyton Orphen ("Orpheus 
famous-of-name"). He is not mentioned in Homer or Hesiod. Most 
ancient sources accept his historical existence; Aristotle is an 




Pindar calls Orpheus "the father of songs' and identifies him as a son 
of the Thracian king Oeagrus and the Muse Calliope: but as Karl 
Kerenyi observes, "in the popular mind he was more closely linked to 
the community of his disciples and adherents than with any particular 

Orpheus (left, with lyre) among the Thracians, race or familv 

from an Attic red-figure [bell-krater (ca. 440 
BC) [4] 

« [10] 

Greeks of the Classical age venerated Orpheus as the greatest of all 

poets and musicians: it was said that while Hermes had invented the 

lyre, Orpheus perfected it. Poets such as Simonides of Ceos said that Orpheus' music and singing could charm the 

birds, fish and wild beasts, coax the trees and rocks into dance, and divert the course of rivers. He was one of the 


handful of Greek heroes to visit the Underworld and return; his music and song even had power over Hades. 
Some sources credit Orpheus with further gifts to mankind: medicine, which is more usually under the aegis of 


Aesculapius; writing, which is usually credited to Cadmus; and agriculture, where Orpheus assumes the 
Eleusinian role of Triptolemus as giver of Demeter's knowledge to mankind. Orpheus was an augur and seer; 


practiced magical arts and astrology, founded cults to Apollo and Dionysus and prescribed the mystery rites 
preserved in Orphic texts. In addition, Pindar and Apollonius of Rhodes place Orpheus as the harpist and 
companion of Jason and the Argonauts. Orpheus had a brother named Linus who went to Thebes and became a 




Strabo (64 BC — c. AD 24) presents Orpheus as a mortal, who lived and died in a village close to Olympus. 

"Some, of course, received him willingly, but others, since they suspected a plot and violence, combined against him 

n ri 
and killed him." He made money as a musician and "wizard" — Strabo uses agurteuonta (ayuptEiiovta), also 

used by Sophocles in Oedipus Tyrannus to characterize Teiresias as a trickster with an excessive desire for 

' [19] 

possessions. Agurtes (oyupTr|<;) most often meant charlatan and always had a negative connotation. Pausanias 

writes of an unnamed Egyptian who considered Orpheus a magician (mageuse {\iayzvaz) 





Early life 


According to Apollodorus and a 

fragment of Pindar, Orpheus's 

father was Oeagrus, a Thracian king; 

or, according to another version of the 

story, the god Apollo. His mother was 

the muse Calliope; or, a daughter of 

Pierus, son of Makednos. His 

lllyria Paeonia 





Pella]5j ® 


M Olympus 

&f Lebeithra 


■ . 

Aegean See 

Minor Asia 

. Oodona 





„ "Orpheus" 

U Tribe he ruled. 

A, BD5 

■ Birth. 

% Father Apollo or Oeagrus 

Where he lived with Calliope 

IHU his mother who taught him to make 

verses for singing. 

IrjTl Given the Golden lyre by Apollo and 

taught to play it. 

15] uamopes ureeK lamer nerus.Mng 

of Pella. 

:flj Death in Pieria or Pangaion.Suicide,Aornurri 


Y Limbs in Lesbos or becoming a constelattion. 

^ Grave al Lebeithra by the Muses 

birthplace and place of residence was 
in Pimpleia, Olympus. In 

Argonautica the location of Oeagrus 
and Calliope's wedding is close to 

D - i • P7] ,-., [28] [29] 

Pimpleia, near Olympus. 

While living with his mother and her 

eight beautiful sisters in Parnassus, 

he met Apollo, who was courting the 

laughing muse Thalia. Apollo, as the 

god of music, gave Orpheus a golden 

lyre and taught him to play it. Orpheus's mother taught him to make verses for singing. Strabo mentions that he lived 

no] Till 

in Pimpleia. He is also said to have studied in Egypt. 


Orpheus is said to have established the worship of Hecate in Aegina. In Laconia Orpheus is said to have brought 

[33] - [341 

the worship of Demeter Chthonia and that of the Kores Soteiras (Greek,Xopec Zmteigag) savior maid. Also in 
Taygetus a wooden image of Orpheus was said to have been kept by Pelasgians in the sanctuary of the Eleusinian 

Important sites in the life and travels of Orpheus 


,. [35] 

Travelling as an Argonaut 

The Argonautica (Greek: ApyovauTLKa) is a Greek epic poem written by Apollonius Rhodius in the 3rd century BC. 
Orpheus took part in this adventure and used his skills to aid his companions. Chiron told Jason that without the aid 
of Orpheus, the Argonauts would never be able to pass the Sirens — the same Sirens encountered by Odysseus in 
Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. The Sirens lived on three small, rocky islands called Sirenum scopuli and sang 
beautiful songs that enticed sailors to come to them, which resulted in the crashing of their ships into the islands. 
When Orpheus heard their voices, he drew his lyre and played music that was louder and more beautiful, drowning 
out the Sirens' bewitching songs. 



Death of Eurydice 

The most famous story in which Orpheus figures is that of his wife 
Eurydice (sometimes referred to as Euridice and also known as 
Agriope). While walking among her people, the Cicones, in tall grass 
at her wedding, Eurydice was set upon by a satyr. In her efforts to 
escape the satyr, Eurydice fell into a nest of vipers and suffered a fatal 
bite on her heel. Her body was discovered by Orpheus who, overcome 
with grief, played such sad and mournful songs that all the nymphs and 
gods wept. On their advice, Orpheus travelled to the underworld and 
by his music softened the hearts of Hades and Persephone (he was the 
only person ever to do so), who agreed to allow Eurydice to return with 
him to earth on one condition: he should walk in front of her and not 
look back until they both had reached the upper world. He set off with 
Eurydice following, and, in his anxiety, as soon as he reached the 
upper world, he turned to look at her, forgetting that both needed to be 
in the upper world, and she vanished for the second time, but now 

The story in this form belongs to the time of Virgil, who first 
introduces the name of Aristaeus (by the time of Virgil's Georgics, the 
myth has Aristaeus chasing Eurydice when she was bitten by a serpent) 

and the tragic outcome. Other ancient writers, however, speak of Orpheus's visit to the underworld in a more 

negative light; according to Phaedrus in Plato's Symposium, the infernal gods only "presented an apparition" of 

Eurydice to him. Ovid says that Eurydice's death was not caused by fleeing from Aristaeus but by dancing with 

naiads on her wedding day. In fact, Plato's representation of Orpheus is that of a coward, as instead of choosing to 

die in order to be with the one he loved, he instead mocked the gods by trying to go to Hades and get her back alive. 

Since his love was not "true" — he did not want to die for love — he was actually punished by the gods, first by giving 

him only the apparition of his former wife in the underworld, and then by being killed by women. 

( ► T^ a. 

Br J i B v ^1 

\i v 1 

Orpheus with the lyre and surrounded by beasts 
(Byzantine & Christian Museum, Athens) 

The story of Eurydice may actually be a late addition to the Orpheus myths. In particular, the name Eurudike ("she 
whose justice extends widely") recalls cult-titles attached to Persephone. The myth may have been derived from 
another Orpheus legend, in which he travels to Tartarus and charms the goddess Hecate. 

This story also led to the composition of the song, "Minuet and the Dance of the Blessed Spirits", from Orfeo ed 

Orpheus' descent to the Underworld is paralleled in other versions of a worldwide theme: the Japanese myth of 

Izanagi and Izanami, the Akkadian/Sumerian myth of Inanna's Descent to the Underworld, and Mayan myth of Ix 

Chel and Itzamna. The Nez Perce tell a story about the trickster figure, Coyote, that shares many similarities with the 

story of Orpheus and Eurydice. This is but one theme present in a larger "North American Orpheus Tradition" in 

American Indian oral tradition. The myth theme of not looking back, an essential precaution in Jason's raising of 

chthonic Brimo Hekate under Medea's guidance, is reflected in the Biblical story of Lot's wife when escaping 

from Sodom. More directly, the story of Orpheus is similar to the ancient Greek tales of Persephone captured by 

Hades and similar stories of Adonis captive in the underworld. However, the developed form of the Orpheus myth 

was entwined with the Orphic mystery cults and, later in Rome, with the development of Mithraism and the cult of 

Sol Invictus. 




According to a Late Antique summary of Aeschylus's lost 
play Bassarids, Orpheus at the end of his life disdained the 
worship of all gods save the sun, whom he called Apollo. 

One early morning he went to the oracle of Dionysus at 

Mount Pangaion to salute his god at dawn, but was 

ripped to shreds by Thracian Maenads for not honoring his 

previous patron (Dionysus) and buried in Pieria. Here 

his death is analogous with the death of Pentheus. For this 

reason it is sometimes speculated that the Orphic mystery 

cult regarded Orpheus as a parallel figure to or even an 

incarnation of Dionysus himself, due to their many 

parallels, such as their similar journeys into Hades and 

identical deaths (in the case of Dionysus Zagreus ). A 

view supported by the conjectured Thracian belief that 

their kings were regarded as the incarnations of Dionysus 

which would have included King Oeagrus, and his heir 

Orpheus, as well as the foundation or reform of the 

Dionysian Mysteries by Orpheus. But this remains 

controversial. Pausanias writes that Orpheus was buried in 

Dion and that he met his death there. He writes that the 

river Helicon sank underground when the women that 

killed Orpheus tried to wash off their blood-stained hands 

in its waters 


Thracian Girl Carrying the Head of Orpheus on His Lyre by 
Gustave Moreau (1865) 


Ovid also recounts that the Ciconian women, Dionysus' 
followers, spurned by Orpheus, who had forsworn the love 

of women after the death of Eurydice and had taken only youths as his lovers, L "" J first threw sticks and stones at him 
as he played, but his music was so beautiful even the rocks and branches refused to hit him. Enraged, the women tore 
him to pieces during the frenzy of their Bacchic orgies. Medieval folkore put additional spin on the story: in 
Albrecht Diirer's drawing of Orpheus' death, a ribbon high in the tree above him is lettered Orfeus der erst puseran 
("Orpheus, the first sodomite") an interpretation of the passage in Ovid where Orpheus is said to have been "the first 
of the Thracian people to transfer his love to young boys 


His head and lyre, still singing mournful songs, floated down the swift 
Hebrus to the Mediterranean shore. There, the winds and waves carried 


them on to the Lesbos shore, where the inhabitants buried his head 

and a shrine was built in his honour near Antissa; there his oracle 

prophesied, until it was silenced by Apollo 


The lyre was carried to heaven by the Muses, and was placed among 
the stars. The Muses also gathered up the fragments of his body and 
buried them at Leibethra below Mount Olympus, where the 
nightingales sang over his grave. After the river Sys flooded 
Leibethra, the Macedonians took his bones to Dion. Orpheus' soul 
returned to the underworld where he was reunited at last with his beloved Eurydice. 


Another legend places his tomb at Dion, near Pydna in Macedon. In another version of the myth, Orpheus travels 
to Aornum in Thesprotia, Epirus to an old oracle for the dead. In the end Orpheus commits suicide from his grief 

The cave of Orpheus' oracle in Antissa, Lesbos. 



unable to find Eurydice 


Another account relates that he was struck with lightning by Zeus for having revealed the mysteries of the gods to 

™™ [58] 

Orphic poems and rites 

A number of Greek religious poems in hexameters were attributed to Orpheus, as 
they were to similar miracle-working figures, like Bakis, Musaeus, Abaris, 
Aristeas, Epimenides, and the Sibyl. Of this vast literature, only two examples 
survived whole: a set of hymns composed at some point in the second or third 
century AD, and an Orphic Argonautica composed somewhere between the 
fourth and sixth centuries AD. Earlier Orphic literature, which may date back as 
far as the sixth century BC, survives only in papyrus fragments or in quotations. 

Some of the earliest fragments may have been composed by Onomacritus 


In addition to serving as a storehouse of mythological data along the lines of 
Hesiod's Theogony, Orphic poetry was recited in mystery-rites and purification 
rituals. Plato in particular tells of a class of vagrant beggar-priests who would go 
about offering purifications to the rich, a clatter of books by Orpheus and 
Musaeus in tow (Republic 364c-d). Those who were especially devoted to these 
ritual and poems often practiced vegetarianism and abstention from sex, and 
refrained from eating eggs and beans — which came to be known as the 
Orphikos bios, or "Orphic way of life' 

Nymphs Finding the Head of 

Orpheus, by John William 



The Derveni papyrus, found in Derveni, Macedonia (Greece) in 1962, contains a philosophical treatise that is an 
allegorical commentary on an Orphic poem in hexameters, a theogony concerning the birth of the gods, produced in 
the circle of the philosopher Anaxagoras, written in the second half of the fifth century BC. Fragments of the poem 
are quoted making it "the most important new piece of evidence about Greek philosophy and religion to come to 
light since the Renaissance". The papyrus dates to around 340 BC, during the reign of Philip II of Macedon, 
making it Europe's oldest surviving manuscript. The historian William Mitford wrote in 1784 that the very earliest 
form of a higher and cohesive ancient Greek religion was manifest in the Orphic poems 


W.K.C. Guthrie wrote that Orpheus was the founder of mystery religions and the first to reveal to men the meanings 
of the initiation rites. 


Several etymologies for the name Orpheus have been proposed. A probable suggestion is that it is derived from a 
hypothetical PIE verb *orbhao-, "to be deprived", from PIE *orbh-, "to put asunder, separate". Cognates would 
include Greek orphe, "darkness", and Greek orphanos, "fatherless, orphan", from which comes English 
"orphan" by way of Latin. Orpheus would therefore be semantically close to goao} "to lament, sing wildly, cast a 
spell", uniting his seemingly disparate roles as disappointed lover, transgressive musician and mystery-priest into a 
single lexical whole. The word "orphic" is defined as mystic, fascinating and entrancing, and, probably, because of 
the oracle of Orpheus, "orphic" can also signify "oracular". Fulgentius, a mythographer of the late 5th to early 6th 
century AD, gave the unlikely etymology meaning "best voice," "Oraia-phonos 

« [67] 

Orpheus 64 

Post-Classical Interpretations 

The Orpheus motif has permeated Western culture and has been used as a theme in all art forms. Examples include 
the Breton Lais Sir Orfeo from the early 13th Century or the musical interpretations by Claudio Monteverdi L'Orfeo 
(1607) and Christoph Willibald Gluck's Opera Orfeo ed Euridice (1762). Other modern adaptations include Dino 
Buzzati's graphic novel Poem Strip, a modified take on the character Orpheus in Neil Gaiman's Sandman and Peter 
Blegvad and Andy Partridge's music and spoken-word recording Orpheus the Lowdown. Composer Judge Smith 
based his most recent Songstory on the ancient myth of Orpheus. The 13th studio album of the alternative rock band 
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds is called Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus, with the initial song of the latter album 
based around a satirical reworking of the legend, viewed from a more modern male/female perspective. Vinicius de 
Moraes' play Orfeu da Conceicao , later adapted by Marcel Camus in the 1959 film Black Orpheus, tells the story in 
the modern context of a favela in Rio de Janeiro during the Carnaval. 


[I] Geoffrey Miles, Classical Mythology in English Literature: A Critical Anthology (Routledge, 1999), p. 54ff. 
[2] Pausanias, Description of Greece, Corinth, 2.30.1 

[3] Fritz Graf and Sarah lies Johnston, Ritual Texts for the Afterlife: Orpheus and the Bacchic Gold Tablets (Routledge, 2007), p. 167, while 

taking note of depictions in Greek art, particularly vase painting, that show Orpheus attired as a Greek, often in contrast to those in Thracian 

dress around him. 
[4] Bell-krater, ca. 440 b.c; red-figure, Attributed to the Painter of London E 497, Greek, Attic, Terracotta, ( 

[5] Ihycus, Fragments 17 (Diehl); M. Owen Lee, Virgil as Orpheus: A Study of the Georgics State University of New York Press, Albany (1996), 

p. 3. 
[6] Kathleen Freeman, Ancilla to the Pre-Socratic Philosophers (http://books. google. ie/books?id=ASijqFryr5IC), Harvard University Press 

(1948), p. 1. 
[7] Pindar, Pythian Odes, 4.4.315 (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:abo:tlg, 0033, 002&redirect=true) 
[8] Pindar fragment 126.9. 

[9] Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bihliotheke 1.3.2; Argonautica 1.23, and the Orphic Hymn 24,12. 
[10] Kerenyi, The Heroes of the Greeks 1959:279f. 

[II] Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke 1.3.2; Euripides, Iphigeneia atAulis, 1212 and The Bacchae, 562; Ovid, Metamorphoses 11: "with his 
songs, Orpheus, the bard of Thrace, allured the trees, the savage animals, and even the insensate rocks, to follow him>" 

[12] Others to brave the nekyia were Odysseus, Theseus and Heracles; Perseus also overcame Medusa in a chthonic setting. 

[13] A single literary epitaph, attributed to the sophist Alcidamas, credits Orpheus with the invention of writing. See Ivan Mortimer Linforth, 
"Two Notes on the Legend of Orpheus", Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 62, (1931):5-17). 

[14] Apollodorus (Pseudo Apollodorus), Library and Epitome, 1.3.2 ( 
"Orpheus also invented the mysteries of Dionysus, and having been torn in pieces by the Maenads he is buried in Pieria." 

[15] Apollonius, Argonautica, passim. 

[16] Apollodorus, Library and Epitome, 2.4.9 (, This Linus was a 
brother of Orpheus; he came to Thebes and became a Theban. 

[17] Strabo, Geography Book 7, Chapter 7 (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 01. 0198:book=7:chapter=7& 
highlight=orpheus) "The city Dium, in the foot-hills of Olympus, is not on the shore of the Thermaean Gulf, but is at a distance of as much as 
seven stadia from it. And the city Dium has a village near by, Pimpleia, where Orpheus lived. At the base of Olympus is a city Dium. And it 
has a village near by, Pimpleia. Here lived Orpheus, the Ciconian, it is said — a wizard who at first collected money from his music, together 
with his soothsaying and his celebration of the orgies connected with the mystic initiatory rites, but soon afterwards thought himself worthy of 
still greater things and procured for himself a throng of followers and power. Some, of course, received him willingly, but others, since they 
suspected a plot and violence, combined against him and killed him. And near here, also, is Leibethra." 

[18] Archaic Period (Greek Literature, Volume 2) by Gregory Nagy, ISBN 0-8153-3683-7, page 46 

[19] Index in Eustathii commentaries in Homed Iliadem et Odysseam by Matthaeus Devarius, page 8 

[20] Pausanias, Description of Greece, 6. 20.1, [18] "A man of Egypt said that Pelops received something from Amphion the Theban and buried it 
where is what they call Taraxippus, adding that it was the buried thing which frightened the mares of Oenomaus, as well as those of every 
charioteer since. This Egyptian thought that Amphion and the Thracian Orpheus were clever magicians, and that it was through their 
enchantments that the beasts came to Orpheus, and the stones came to Amphion for the building of the wall. The most probable of the stories 
in my opinion makes Taraxippus a surname of Horse Poseidon." 

[21] son of Oeagrus or Apollo and Calliope: Apollod. 1.3.1 

[22] Pindar, frag. 126, line 9, noted in Kerenyi 1959:280. 

[23] son of Muse Calliope or of daughter of Pierus: Paus. 9.30.4 

Orpheus 65 

[24] Orpheus and Greek Religion (Mythos Books) by William Keith Guthrie and L. Alderlink, 1993, ISBN 0-691-02499-5, page 62 

[25] Orpheus and Greek Religion (Mythos Books) by William Keith Guthrie and L. Alderlink, 1993, ISBN 0-691-02499-5, page 61, "... is a city 

Dion. Near it is a village called was there they say that Orpheus the Kikonian lived ..." 
[26] Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion (Mythos Books) by Jane Ellen Harrison, 1991, ISBN 0-691-01514-7, page 469, "... and "near 

the city of Dium is a village called Pimpleia where Orpheus lived " 

[27] THE ARGONAUTICA, BOOK I,"(ll. 23-34) First then let us name Orpheus whom once Calliope bare, it is said, wedded to Thracian 

Oeagrus, near the Pimpleian height. 
[28] Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion (Mythos Books) by Jane Ellen Harrison, 1991, ISBN 0-691-01514-7, page 469,"... and "near 

the city of Dium is a village called Pimpleia where Orpheus lived " 

[29] Strabo, Geography Book 7, Chapter 7 (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 01. 0198:book=7:chapter=7& 

highlight=orpheus) "The city Dium, in the foot-hills of Olympus, is not on the shore of the Thermaean Gulf, but is at a distance of as much as 

seven stadia from it. And the city Dium has a village near by, Pimpleia 
[30] The Greek Gods by Hoopes And Evslin , ISBN 0-590-441 10-8, ISBN 0-590-441 10-8, 1995, page 77 His father was a Thracian king; His 

mother the muse Calliope. For a while he lived on Parnassus with his mother and his eight beautiful aunts and there met Apollo who was 

courting the laughing muse Thalia. Apollo was taken with Orpheus, gave him his little golden lyre and taught him to play. And his mother 

taught him to make verses for singing. 
[31] Diodorus Siculus 4.25.2-4. ( 
[32] Pausanias, Description of Greece, Corinth, 2.30.1 [2] Of the gods, the Aeginetans worship most Hecate, in whose honor every year they 

celebrate mystic rites which, they say, Orpheus the Thracian established among them. Within the enclosure is a temple; its wooden image is 

the work of Myron, 1 and it has one face and one body. It was Alcamenes,2 in my opinion, who first made three images of Hecate attached to 

one another, a figure called by the Athenians Epipurgidia (on the Tower); it stands beside the temple of the Wingless Victory. 
[33] Pausanias, Description of Greece, Laconia, 3. 14.1, [5] but the wooden image of Thetis is guarded in secret. The cult of Demeter Chthonia (of 

the Lower World) the Lacedaemonians say was handed on to them by Orpheus, but in my opinion it was because of the sanctuary in 

Hermione4 that the Lacedaemonians also began to worship Demeter Chthonia. The Spartans have also a sanctuary of Serapis, the newest 

sanctuary in the city, and one of Zeus surnamed Olympian. 
[34] Pausanias, Description of Greece, Laconia, 3.13.1, Opposite the Olympian Aphrodite the Lacedaemonians have a temple of the Saviour 

Maid. Some say that it was made by Orpheus the Thracian, others by Abairis when he had come from the Hyperboreans. 
[35] Pausanias, Description of Greece, Laconia, 3. 20.1, [5] Between Taletum and Euoras is a place they name Therae, where they say Leto from 

the Peaks of Taygetus ... is a sanctuary of Demeter surnamed Eleusinian. Here according to the Lacedaemonian story Heracles was hidden by 

Asclepius while he was being healed of a wound. In the sanctuary is a wooden image of Orpheus, a work, they say, of Pelasgians 
[36] M. Owen Lee, Virgil as Orpheus: A Study of the Georgics, State University of New York Press, Albany (1996), p. 9. 
[37] Symposium 179d (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus: text: 1999. 01. 0174:text=Sym. :section=179d). 
[38] Robert Graves, The Greek Myths, Penguin Books Ltd., London (1955), Volume 1, Chapter 28, "Orpheus", p. 115. 
[39] Lopez, Barry Holstun. Giving Birth to Thunder, Sleeping With His Daughter: Coyote Builds North America. Avon Books, 1977, pp. 

[40] Wise, R. Todd, A Neocomparative Examination of the Orpheus Myth As Found in the Native American and European Traditions. UMI 

[41] Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica, book III: "Let no footfall or barking of dogs cause you to turn around, lest you ruin everything", Medea 

warns Jason; after the dread rite, "The son of Aison was seized by fear, but even so he did not turn round..." (Richard Hunter, translator). 
[42] Orpheus and Greek Religion by William Keith Guthrie and L. Alderlink, ISBN 0-691-02499-5, page 32 
[43] Classical Mythology - Page 279, Mark P. O. Morford, Robert J. Lenardon. 
[44] Harvard Studies in Classical Philology: Volume 88 - Page 211 
[45] Zeus. A Study in Ancient Religion. Volume 2, Part 1. Page 271 
[46] Pausanias, Description of Greece, Boeotia, 9.30.1 (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=Paus. +9. 30. 4), [7]The 

Macedonians who dwell in the district below Mount Pieria and the city of Dium say that it was here that Orpheus met his end at the hands of 

the women. Going from Dium along the road to the mountain, and advancing twenty stades, you come to a pillar on the right surmounted by a 

stone urn, which according to the natives contains the bones of Orpheus. 
[47] Pausanias, Description of Greece, Boeotia, 9.30.1 (,[8] There is also 

a river called Helicon. After a course of seventy-five stades the stream hereupon disappears under the earth. After a gap of about twenty-two 

stades the water rises again, and under the name of Baphyra instead of Helicon flows into the sea as a navigable river. The people of Dium say 

that at first this river flowed on land throughout its course. But, they go on to say, the women who killed Orpheus wished to wash off in it the 

blood-stains, and thereat the river sank underground, so as not to lend its waters to cleanse manslaughter 
[48] Ovid before exile: art and punishment in the Metamorphoses by Patricia Jane Johnson,2008,ISBN-0299224007,page 103, "by the Ciconian 

[49] Ovid - The Metamorphoses - Book X ( 
[50] Ovid - The Metamorphoses - Book XI ( l.htm) 
[51] Ovid, Metamorphoses 10.85. (http://www.theoi.eom/Text/OvidMetamorphoseslO.html#l) 
[52] Carlos Parada (," His head fell into the sea and was cast by the waves upon the 

island of Lesbos where the Lesbians buried it, and for having done this the Lesbians have the reputation of being skilled in music." 

Orpheus 66 

[53] A site proposed as the oracle of Orpheus in Antissa was identified in the early 21st century; see Harissis H.V. et al. "The Spelios of Antissa; 

The oracle of Orpheus in Lesvos" Archaiologiu kai Technes 2002;83:68-73 (article in Greek with English abstract) 
[54] Flavius Philostratus, Life of Apollonius ofTyana, AAA. (http://www.livius.Org/ap-ark/apollonius/life/va_4_ll.html#ijl4) 
[55] The Writing of Orpheus: Greek Myth in Cultural Context by Marcele Detienne, ISBN 0-8018-6954-4, page 161 
[56] Pausanias, Description of Greece, Boeotia, 9.30.1 ( [11] 

Immediately when night came the god sent heavy rain, and the river Sys (Boar), one of the torrents about Olympus, on this occasion threw 

down the walls of Libethra, overturning sanctuaries of gods and houses of men, and drowning the inhabitants and all the animals in the city. 

When Libethra was now a city of ruin, the Macedonians in Dium, according to my friend of Larisa, carried the bones of Orpheus to their own 

[57] Pausanias, Description of Greece, Boeotia, 9.30.1 (,[6] 

Others have said that his wife died before him, and that for her sake he came to Aornum in Thesprotis, where of old 
was an oracle of the dead. He thought, they say, that the soul of Eurydice followed him, but turning round he lost 
her, and committed suicide for grief. The Thracians say that such nightingales as nest on the grave of Orpheus sing 
more sweetly and louder than others. 

[58] Diogenes Laertius, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, Introduction 4 (; 
Encyclopaedia Britannica - 1911 Edition, Orpheus ( 

[59] Kathleen freeman, Ancilla to the Pre-Socratic Philosophers (http://books. google. ie/books?id=ASijqFryr5IC), Harvard University Press 
(1948), p. 1. 

[60] Moore, p. 56 says that "the use of eggs and beans was forbidden, for these articles were associated with the worship of the dead". 

[61] Richard Janko, Bryn Mawr Classical Review, (2006) of K. Tsantsanoglou, G.M. Parassoglou, T. Kouremenos (editors), 2006. The Derveni 
Papyrus ( (Florence: Olschki) series "Studi e testi per il "Corpus dei papiri 
filosofici greci e latini", vol. 13). 

[62] Mitford, p. 89: "But the very early inhabitants of Greece had a religion far less degenerated from original purity. To this curious and 

interesting fact, abundant testimonies remain. They occur in those poems, of uncertain origin and uncertain date, but unquestionably of great 
antiquity, which are called the poems of Orpheus or rather the Orphic poems [particularly in the Hymn to Jupiter, quoted by Aristotle in the 
seventh chapter of his Treatise on the World: Zevji; Jipojxoi; vevexo, Zevji; vc,axoc„ x. x. e]; and they are found scattered among the writings of 
the philosophers and historians." The idea of a religion "degenerated from original purity" expressed an Enlightenment idealisation of an 
assumed primitive state that is one connotation of "primitivism" in the history of ideas. 

[63] Guthrie, pp. 17- 18. "As founder of mystery-religions, Orpheus was first to reveal to men the meaning of the rites of initiation (teletai). We 
read of this in both Plato and Aristophanes (Aristophanes, Frogs, 1032; Plato, Republic, 364e, a passage which suggests that literary authority 
was made to take the responsibility for the rites)". Guthrie goes on to write about "This less worthy but certainly popular side of Orphism is 
represented for us again by the charms or incantations of Orpheus which we may also read of as early as the fifth century. Our authority is 
Euripides. We have already noticed the 'charm on the Thracian tablets' in the Alcestis and in Cyclops one of the lazy and frightened Satyrs, 
unwilling to help Odysseus in the task of driving the burning stake into the single eye of the giant, exclaims: 'But I know a spell of Orpheus, a 
fine one, which will make the brand step up of its own accord to burn this one-eyed son of Earth' (Euripides, Cyclops 646 = Kern, test. 83).". 

[64] Archetypal Imagination: Glimpses of the Gods in Life and Art by Noel Cobb, ISBN 0-940262-47-9, page 240 

[65] Myth and the polis by Dora Carlisky, ISBN 0-8014-2473-9, page 46 

[66] Macmillan Dictionary for Students by Ltd. Pan Macmillan, ISBN 0-02-76 1560-X, page 711 

[67] Classical Mythology in English Literature: A Critical Anthology by Geoffrey Miles, ISBN 0-415-14755-7, 1999, page 57 


• Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke I, iii, 2; ix, 16 & 25; 

• Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica I, 23- 34; IV, 891-909. 

• Bernabe, Albertus (ed.), Orphicorum et Orphicis similium testimonia et fragmenta. Poetae Epici Graeci. Pars II. 
Fasc. 1. Bibliotheca Teubneriana, Miinchen/Leipzig: K.G. Saur, 2004. ISBN 3-598-71707-5. review of this book 

• Guthrie, William Keith Chambers, Orpheus and Greek Religion: a Study of the Orphic Movement, 1935. 

• Kerenyi, Karl (1959). The Heroes of the Greeks. New York/London: Thames and Hudson. 

• Mitford, William, The History of Greece, 1784. Cf. v.l, Chapter II, Religion of the Early Greeks. 

• Moore, Clifford H, Religious Thought of the Greeks, 1916. Kessinger Publishing (April 2003). ISBN 

• Ossoli, Margaret Fuller, Orpheus, a sonnet about his trip to the underworld. 

• Ovid, Metamorphoses X, 1-105; XI, 1-66; 

• Rohde, Erwin, Psyche, 1925. cf. Chapter 10, The Orphics. 

Orpheus 67 

• Segal, Charles (1989). Orpheus : The Myth of the Poet. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. 
ISBN 0-8018-3708-1. 

• Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Orpheus" (http:// 
www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0104:alphabetic+letter=O:entry+ 

group=8 :entry=orpheus-bio- 1 ) 

• Taylor, Thomas [translator], The Mystical Hymns of Orpheus (, 1896. 

• West, Martin L., The Orphic Poems, 1983. There is a sub-thesis in this work that early Greek religion was heavily 
influenced by Central Asian shamanistic practices. One major point of contact was the ancient Crimean city of 

• Wise, R. Todd, A Neocomparative Examination of the Orpheus Myth As Found in the Native American and 
European Traditions, 1998. UMI. The thesis explores Orpheus as a single mythic structure present in traditions 
that extend from antiquity to contemporary times and across cultural contexts. 

External links 

• Greek Mythology Link, Orpheus ( 

• Theoi Project: online text: The Orphic Hymns translated by Thomas Taylor ( 
OrphicHymns 1 .html) 

• The Life and Theology of Orpheus by Thomas Taylor ( 
html) - this link also has several Orphic Hymns and their accompanying notes by Taylor. 

• Orphica in English and Greek, Select Resources ( 

• Leibethra,The Tomb of Orpheus ( 
task=view&id=86&Itemid=118) (in Greek) 





Asclepius with his serpent-entwined staff 
God of medicine, healing, rejuvenation and physicians 



A serpent-entwined staff 

Apollo and Coronis 

Hygieia, Iaso, Aceso, Meditrina, and Panacea 

Asclepius ( 4 /ses'klilpies/; Greek: AokXtijtloi; Asklepios Greek pronunciation: [askle:pios]; Latin Aesculapius) is the 
god of medicine and healing in ancient Greek religion. Asclepius represents the healing aspect of the medical arts; 
his daughters are Hygieia ("Hygiene", the goddess/personification of health, cleanliness, and sanitation), Iaso (the 
goddess of recuperation from illness), Aceso (the goddess of the healing process), AglseaAEgle (the goddess of 
beauty, splendor, glory, magnificence, and adornment), and Panacea (the goddess of universal remedy). He was 
associated with the Roman/Etruscan god Vediovis. He was one of Apollo's sons, sharing with Apollo the epithet 
Paean ("the Healer"). The rod of Asclepius, a snake-entwined staff, remains a symbol of medicine today. 


The etymology of the name is unknown. In his revised version of Frisk's Griechisches etymologisches Worterbuch 
(Greek etymological dictionary), R.S.P. Beekes gives this summary of the different attempts: 

"H. Gregoire (with R. Goossens and M. Mathieu) in Asklepios, Apollon Smintheus et Rudra 1949 (Mem. Acad. 
Roy. de Belgique. CI. d. lettres. 2. ser. 45), explains the name as 'the mole-hero', connecting oKaXoip, 
aonakalE, 'mole' and refers to the resemblance of the Tholos in Epidauros and the building of a mole. (Thus 
Puhvel, Comp. Mythol. 1987, 135.) But the variants of Asklepios and those of the word for 'mole' do not agree. 

The name is typical for Pre-Greek words; apart from minor variations (|3 for Jt, aX(a) for Xa) we find a/at (a 
well known variation; Fur. 335 - 339) followed by -y^ajt- or -oKXajt-/-ox^aJt/|3-, i.e. a voiced velar (without 
-o-) or a voiceless velar (or an aspirated one: we know that there was no distinction between the three in the 
substr. language) with a -o-. I think that the -a- renders an original affricate, which (prob. as 5) was lost before 

the -y- (in Greek the group -ay- is rare, and certainly before another consonant); Beekes Pre-Greek 


Szemerenyi's etymology (JHS 94, 1974, 155) from Hitt. assula(a)- 'well-being' and piya- 'give' cannot be 
correct, as it does not explain the velar." 

One might add that even though Szemerenyi's etymology (Hitt. asula- + piya-) does not account for the velar, it is 
perhaps inserted spontaneously in Greek due to the fact that the cluster -si- was uncommon in Greek: So, *Aslapios 
would become Asklapios automatically. 





He was the son of Apollo and Coronis. His mother was killed for being unfaithful to Apollo and was laid out on a 
funeral pyre to be consumed, but the unborn child was rescued from her womb. Or, alternatively, his mother died in 
labor and was laid out on the pyre to be consumed, but his father rescued the child, cutting him from her womb. 
From this he received the name Asklepios, "to cut open." Apollo carried the baby to the centaur Chiron who raised 

Asclepius and instructed him in the art of medicine 


Wives and offspring 

Asclepios was married to Epione, with whom he had six 
daughters: Hygieia, Meditrina (the serpent-bearer), Panacea, 


Aceso, Iaso, and Aglaea, and three sons: Machaon, 

Podaleirios and Telesphoros. He also sired a son, Aratus, with 
Aristodama. The names of his daughters each rather transparently 
reflect a certain subset of the overall theme of "good 
health" [SM 10 ^ 11 ^ 12 ^ 13 ^ 14 ] 

At some point, Asclepius was among those who took part in the 
Calydonian Boar hunt. 


Zeus killed Asclepius with a thunderbolt because he raised 

Hippolytus from the dead and accepted gold for it. Other stories 

say that Asclepius was killed because after bringing people back 

from the dead, Hades thought that no more dead spirits would 

come to the underworld, so he asked his brother Zeus to remove 

him. This angered Apollo who in turn murdered the Cyclopes who had made the thunderbolts for Zeus. LluJ For this 

act, Zeus suspended Apollo from the night sky and commanded Apollo to serve Admetus, King of Thessaly for a 

year. Once the year had passed, Zeus brought Apollo back to Mount Olympus and revived the Cyclopes that made 

his thunderbolts. After Asclepius' death, Zeus placed his body among the stars as the constellation Ophiuchus 

("the Serpent Holder") 

Asclepios with his daughter Hygieia 



Some sources also stated that Asclepius was later resurrected as a god by Zeus to prevent any further feuds with 

Sacred places and practices 



Greek deities 

Primordial deities 

Titans and Olympians 
Aquatic deities 

Chthonic deities 
Personified concepts 

Other deities 














i ''<v> - far 








The most famous temple of Asclepius was at Epidaurus in north-eastern 
Peloponnese. Another famous healing temple (or asclepieion) was located on the 
island of Kos, where Hippocrates, the legendary "father of medicine", may have 
begun his career. Other asclepieia were situated in Trikala, Gortys (in Arcadia), and 
Pergamum in Asia. 

In honor of Asclepius, a particular type of non-venomous snake was often used in 

healing rituals, and these snakes — the Aesculapian Snakes — crawled around 

freely on the floor in dormitories where the sick and injured slept. These snakes 

were introduced at the founding of each new temple of Asclepius throughout the 

classical world. From about 300 BC onwards, the cult of Asclepius grew very 

popular and pilgrims flocked to his healing temples (Asclepieia) to be cured of their 

ills. Ritual purification would be followed by offerings or sacrifices to the god 

(according to means), and the supplicant would then spend the night in the holiest part of the sanctuary - the abaton 

(or adyton). Any dreams or visions would be reported to a priest who would prescribe the appropriate therapy by a 

process of interpretation. Some healing temples also used sacred dogs to lick the wounds of sick petitioners. 

The original Hippocratic Oath began with the invocation "I swear by Apollo the Physician and by Asclepius and by 

Hygieia and Panacea and by all the gods ..." 

Some later religious movements claimed links to Asclepius. In the 2nd century AD the controversial miracle-worker 
Alexander claimed that his god Glycon, a snake with a "head of linen" was an incarnation of Asclepius. The 
Greek language rhetorician and satirist Lucian produced the work Alexander the False Prophet to denounce the 
swindler for future generations. He described Alexander as having a character "made up of lying, trickery, perjury, 

and malice; [it was] facile, audacious, venturesome, diligent in the execution of its schemes, plausible, convincing, 

masking as good, and wearing an appearance absolutely opposite to its purpose." Justin Martyr, a philosophical 

defender of Christianity who wrote around 160 AD claimed that the myth of Asclepius foreshadowed rather than 

served as a source for claims of Jesus's healing powers. 

The botanical genus Asclepias (commonly known as milkweed) is named after him and includes the medicinal plant 
A. tuberosa or "Pleurisy root". 

Asclepius was depicted on the reverse of the Greek 10,000 drachmas banknote of 1995-2001 


Asclepius 71 

Popular culture 

• Asclepius was seen in Marvel Comics where he appeared in Ares #4. 

• In The Heroes of Olympus (a sequel to Percy Jackson & the Olympians) book titled The Son of Neptune, the Lares 
named Vitellius is a descendant of Asclepius. 


[I] Statue of Asclepios of the Este type. Pentelic marble, Roman period copy of ca. 160 AD after a 4th-century BC original. From the temple of 
Asclepios at Epidaurus (National Archaeological Museum, Athens, inv. 263). 

[2] Mitchell-Boyask, p. 141 ( 


[4] Greek etymology database (http://www. cgi?flags=endnnnl&root=leiden&basename=\data\ie\greek) 

[5] The Asklepios cult ( 

[6] Pindar, Pythian Ode 3. 5 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) 

[7] Greek Lyric V Anonymous, Fragments 939 (Inscription from Erythrai) (trans. Campbell) (B.C.) 

[8] Suidas s.v. Epione (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek lexicon ClOth A.D.) 

[9] Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 29. 1 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) 

[10] Homer, Iliad 4. 193 & 217 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) 

[II] Homer, Iliad 11.518 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) 
[12] Homer, Iliad 2. 730 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) 
[13] Lycophron, Alexandra 1047 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) 

[14] Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 71. 3 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian Cist B.C.) 

[15] Philodemus, On Piety (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric IV Stesichorus Frag 147 & Cinesias Frag 774) (C7th to 6th B.C.) 

[16] Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 121 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) 

[17] Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4. 610 ff (trans. Rieu) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.) 

[18] Hyginus, Fabulae 49 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) 

[19] Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 14 Latin Mythography C2nd A.D 

[20] Sigerist. Chapter 3, Religious medicine: Asclepius and his cult, p. 63ff. 

[21] Farnell, Chapter 10, "The Cult of Asklepios" (pp.234-279) 

[22] Lucian, Alexander the False Prophet (trans A.M. Harmon) (Cambridge: Loeb Classical Library, 1936), Lucian, vol IV. Accessible online at 
[23] (http://www.ccel. org/ccel/schaff/anf01.viii.ii.xl.html?highlight=giant#highlight) Dialogue of Justin and Trypho (the Jew) 

[24] Bank of Greece ( Drachma Banknotes ( 

Euro/drachma.aspx#tra). 10,000 drachma note (pdf) ( — 

Retrieved on 26 July 2010. 


• Farnell, Lewis Richard. Greek Hero Cults and Ideas of Immortality, (Oxford Clarendon Press, 1921). 

• Grimal, Pierre, The Dictionary of Classical Mythology (http://books. google. com/books ?id=iOx6de8LUNAC& 
printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false), Wiley-Blackwell, 1996, 
ISBN 978-0-631-20102-1. 'Asclepius" pp. 62-63 ( 

• Hart, Gerald D. MD. Asclepius: The God of Medicine (Royal Society of Medicine Press, 2000) 

• Mitchell-Boyask, Robin, Plague and the Athenian Imagination: Drama, History and the Cult of Asclepius, 
Cambridge University Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-521-87345-1. 

• Riethmiiller, Jiirgen W. Asklepios : Heiligtiimer und Kulte, Heidelberg, Verlag Archaologie und Geschichte, 
2005, ISBN 3-935289-30-8 

• Sigerist, Henry E. A History of Medicine Volume 2: Early Greek, Hindu, and Persian Medicine (Oxford 
University Press 1987), chapter 3. 

Erechtheus 72 


Erechtheus (/i'rekOies/; Greek: 'EpE/OEix;) in Greek mythology was the name of an archaic king of Athens, the 
re-founder of the polis and a double at Athens for Poseidon, as "Poseidon Erechtheus". A mythic Erechtheus and an 
Erechtheus given a human genealogy and set in a historicizing context — if they ever were really distinguished by 
Athenians — were harmonized as one in Euripides' lost tragedy Erechtheus, (423/22 BCE) . The name Erichthonius is 
carried by a son of Erechtheus, but Plutarch conflated the two names in the myth of the begetting of Erechtheus. 

Athenians thought of themselves as Erechtheidai, the "sons of Erechtheus". In Homer's Iliad (2. 547—48) he is the 

son of "grain-giving Earth", reared by Athena. The earth-born son was sired by Hephaestus, whose semen Athena 

wiped from her thigh with a fillet of wool cast to earth, by which Gaia was made pregnant. 

In the contest for patronship of Athens between Poseidon and Athena, the salt spring on the Acropolis where 
Poseidon's trident struck was known as the sea of Erechtheus . 

Erechtheus and the Erechtheum/Erechtheion 

The central gods of the Athenian acropolis were Poseidon Erechtheus and Athena Polias, "Athena patron-guardian 
of the city". The Odyssey (VII.81) already records that Athena returned to Athens and "entered the strong-built 
house of Erechtheus" . The archaic joint temple built upon the spot that was identified as the Kekropion, the 
hero-grave of the mythic founder-king Cecrops and the serpent that embodied his spirit was destroyed by the 
Persian forces in 480 BC, during the Greco-Persian wars, and was replaced between 421 and 407 BCE by the famous 
present Erechtheum. Continuity of the site made sacred by the presence of Cecrops is inherent in the reference in 
Nonnus' Dionysiaca to "Erechtheion lamp as "the lamp of Cecrops". Priests of the Erechtheum and the priestess of 
Athena jointly took part in the procession to Skira that inaugurated the Skira festival near the end of the Athenian 
year. Their object was the temenos at Skiron of the hero-seer Skiros, who had aided Eumolpus in the war between 
Athens and Eleusis in which Erechtheus II, the hero-king, was both triumphant and died. 

That Poseidon and Erechtheus were two names at Athens for the same figure (see below) was demonstrated in the 
cult at the Erechtheum, where there was a single altar, a single priest and sacrifices were dedicated to Poseidon 


erechtheus, Walter Burkert observed, adding "An historian would say that a Homeric, pan-Hellenic name has been 
superimposed on an autochthonous, non-Greek name." 

Erechtheus II, king of Athens 

The second Erechtheus was given a historicizing genealogy as son and heir to King Pandion I of Athens by 
Zeuxippe, this Pandion being son of Erichthonius. This later king Erechtheus may be distinguished as Erechtheus II. 
Erechtheus was father, by his wife Praxithea, of several daughters: Procris, Creusa, Chthonia and Oreithyia. 

According to pseudo-Apollodorus, Erechtheus II had a twin brother named Butes who married Erechtheus' daughter 
Chthonia, the "earth-born". Erechtheus and Butes divided the royal power possessed by Pandion, Erechtheus taking 
the physical rule but Butes taking the priesthood of Athena and Poseidon, this right being passed on to his 
descendants. This late origin myth or aition justified and validated the descent of the hereditary priesthood of the 
Boutidai family. 

Erechtheus 73 

The war with Eleusis 

His reign was marked by the war between Athens and Eleusis, when the Eleusinians were commanded by Eumolpus, 
coming from Thrace. An oracle declared that Athens' survival depended on the death one of the three daughters of 
Erechtheus. Perhaps three unmarried daughters is meant. But in one version it is Chthonia who is sacrificed. In 
another both Protogeneia and Pandora, the two eldest, offer themselves up. In any case the remaining sisters 
(excepting Orithyia who had been kidnapped by Boreas), or at least some of them, are said to kill themselves. The 
story of the unfortunate daughters of Erechtheus is comparable to those of the daughters of Hyacinthus of 
Lacedaemon, and of the daughters of Leos. 

In the following battle between the forces of Athens and Eleusis, Erechtheus won the battle and slew Eumolpus, but 

then himself fell, struck down by Poseidon's trident; according to fragments of Euripides' tragedy 

Erechtheus. Poseidon avenged his son Eumolpus' death by driving him into the earth with blows of his trident, 

The ending lines of Euripides' tragedy were recovered in 1965 from a papyrus fragment. They demonstrate for 

Walter Burkert that "the founding of the Erechtheum and the institution of the priestess of Athena coincide." 

Athena resolves the action by instructing Erichtheus' widow Praxithea: 

...and for your husband I command a shrine to be constructed in the middle of the city; he will be known 
for him who killed him, under the name of 'sacred Poseidon'; but among the citizens, when the 

sacrificial cattle are slaughtered, he shall also be called 'Erechtheus'. To you, however, since you have 

rebuilt the city's foundations, I grant the duty of bringing in the preliminary fire-sacrifices for the 

city, and to be called my priestess. 

In the Athenian king-list, Xuthus, the son-in-law of Erechtheus, was asked to choose his successor from among his 

many sons and chose Cecrops II, named for the mythic founder-king Cecrops. Thus Erechtheus is succeeded by 

Cecrops II, his brother, according to a fragment from the poet Castor but his son according to pseudo-Apollodorus 


Other sons of Erechtheus sometimes mentioned are Orneus, Metion, Pandorus, Thespius, and Eupalamus. 


[I] Plutarch, Moralia 843b. 
[2] Euripides, Medea, 824. 

[3] R. M. Frazer, Jr, "Some Notes on the Athenian Entry, Iliad B 546-56" Hermes 97.3 (1969), pp. 262—266, observes in this displacement a 
submerged memory of Athena's lost role as a mother-goddess "by becoming strictly a virgin", (p 262); compare Wolfgang Fauth, Der Kleine 
Pauly (1954), s.v. "Athena"; a contrasting view is Martin P. Nilsson, Geschichte der Griechischen Religion, vol I, pt 2 (Munich, 1955) pp 

[4] pseudo-Apollodorus, 3.14.1, noted by Karl Kerenyi, The Heroes of the Greeks, (1959), p. 211; Kerenyi narrates myths of Erechtheus pp 

[5] Walter Burkert, (Peter Bing, tr.) Homo Necans 1983: 144 remarked of the Skira procession "The priests are those of the central gods of the 
Acropolis: Poseidon-Erechtheus and Athena Polias". 

[6] That the Erechtheion is built on the site of the "alleged tomb, the Kekropion" is noted in passing even in a work as general as Karl Kerenyi, 
The Heroes of the Greeks, 1959:213. The Kekropion is securely identified as lying beneath the Porch of the Maidens of the existing 
Erechtheum. The imprint of a small but vanished enclosure against the east foundation was analyzed by Holland, in American Journal of 
Archaeology (AJA) 28 1924: 161f. No foundations for an actual temple structure have been discovered beneath the Erechtheum itself: William 
Bell Dinsmoor summarizes the archaeology in "The Hekatompedon on the Athenian Acropolis" AJA V51.2 (April— June 1947:109 note 4, 120 
note 59. 

[7] Nonnus, Dionysiaca 33.124, noted by Olga Palagia, "A Niche for Kallimachos' Lamp?" American Journal of Archaeology, 88.4 (October 
1984:515-521) p. 519 and note 15. 

[8] Walter Burkert, (Peter Bing, tr.) Homo Necans 1983, p. 149 gives references for this observation. 

[9] The alternative, that Zeus slew him with a thunderbolt at Poseidon's request, simply sets the action at a remove, magnifying a universal role 
for Zeus. 

[10] Euripides, Ion, 281. Another figure who was killed by driving him into the earth by repeated blows was Caeneus the Lapith. 

[II] Colin Austin, in Recherches de Papyrologie 4 (1967); Nova fragmenta Euripidea (1968) frs. 65. 90-97. 
[12] Burkert, (Peter Bing, tr.) Homo Necans (1983) p. 149. 



[13] Praxithea ("cult of the Goddess") had assented to the sacrifice of her own daughter before the battle. 
[14] Peter Bing's English rendering of Walter Burkert's translation. 


In Greek mythology, Pelops (Greek I1eXoi|), from 
pelios: dark; and ops: face, eye), was king of Pisa in the 
Peloponnesus. He was the founder of the House of 
Atreus through his son of that name. 

He was venerated at Olympia, where his cult developed 
into the founding myth of the Olympic Games, the 
most important expression of unity, not only for the 
Peloponnesus, "island of Pelops", but for all Hellenes. 
At the sanctuary at Olympia, chthonic night-time 
libations were offered each time to "dark-faced" Pelops 
in his sacrificial pit (bothros) before they were offered 
in the following daylight to the sky-god Zeus (Burkert 


Pelops was a son of Tantalus and either Dione, 
Euryanassa or Eurythemista. Of Phrygian or Lydian 

birth, he departed his homeland for Greece, and won the crown of Pisa or Olympia from King Oenomaus. Pelops 
was credited with numerous children, begotten on his wife Hippodameia, daughter of Oenomaus. Pelops' sons 
include Pittheus, Troezen, Alcathous, Dimoetes, Pleisthenes, Atreus, Thyestes, Copreus, Hippalcimus, Cleones and 
Letreus. Pelops and Hippodameia also had several daughters, some of whom married into the House of Perseus, such 
as Astydameia (who married Alcaeus), Nicippe (who married Sthenelus), and Eurydice (who married Electryon). By 
the nymph Axioche (A^lo/i]) or Danais Pelops was father of Chrysippus. 

Tantalus' savage banquet 

Pelops' father was Tantalus, king at Mount Sipylus in Anatolia. Wanting to make an offering to the Olympians, 
Tantalus cut Pelops into pieces and made his flesh into a stew, then served it to the gods. Demeter, deep in grief after 
the abduction of her daughter Persephone by Hades, absentmindedly accepted the offering and ate the left shoulder. 
The other gods sensed the plot, however, and held off from eating of the boy's body. Pelops was ritually reassembled 
and brought back to life, his shoulder replaced with one of ivory made for him by Hephaestus. Pindar mentioned this 
tradition in his First Olympian Ode, only to reject it as a malicious invention: his patron claimed descent from 

After Pelops' resurrection, Poseidon took him to Olympus, and made the youth apprentice, teaching him also to drive 
the divine chariot. Later, Zeus threw Pelops out of Olympus, angry that his father, Tantalus, had stolen the food of 
the gods, given it to his subjects, and revealed the secrets of the gods. 

Pelops 75 

Courting Hippodamia 

Having grown to manhood, Pelops wanted to marry Hippodamia. King Oenomaus, her father, fearful of a prophecy 

that claimed he would be killed by his son-in-law, had killed twelve suitors of Hippodamia after defeating them in a 

chariot race and affixed their heads to the wooden columns of his palace. Pausanias was shown what was purported 

to be the last standing column in the late second century CE. Pelops came to ask for her hand and prepared to race 

Oenomaus. Worried about losing, Pelops went to the seaside and invoked Poseidon, his former lover. Reminding 

Poseidon of their love ("Aphrodite's sweet gifts"), he asked Poseidon for help. Smiling, Poseidon caused a chariot 

drawn by untamed winged horses to appear. 

Two episodes involving charioteers were added into the plain account of the heroic chariot race. In the first related 
by Theopompus, having received the horses, Pelops hastens to Pisa to defeat Oenomaus. On the way, his charioteer 
Cillus (also named Sphaerus) dies and stands in a dream over Pelops, who was highly distressed about him, to make 
requests for a funeral. Pelops complies by burying his ashes magnificently, and raises a mound to erect a temple 
dedicated to Apollo which he names Apollo Cillaeus and he founds a city besides the mound and the temple which 
he also names Cilia after his charioteer and friend. Both the temple and the city are mentioned in the first book of 
Homer's Iliad and suggestions regarding their exact location have been made. Furthermore, Cillus, even after his 
death, appears to have helped Pelops' cause in order for him to win the race. 

In the second, Pelops, still unsure of himself (or alternatively, Hippodamia herself) and of the winged horses and 
chariot of divine provenance he had secured, convinced Oenomaus' charioteer, Myrtilus, a son of Hermes, to help 
him win. Pelops or Hippodamia herself convinced Myrtilus by promising him half of Oenomaus' kingdom and the 
first night in bed with Hippodamia. The night before the race, while Myrtilus was putting together Oenomaus' 
chariot, he replaced the bronze linchpins attaching the wheels to the chariot axle with fake ones made of beeswax. 
The race started, and went on for a long time. But just as Oenomaus was catching up to Pelops and readying to kill 
him, the wheels flew off and the chariot broke apart. Myrtilus survived, but Oenomaus was dragged to death by his 
horses. Pelops then killed Myrtilus (by throwing him off a cliff into the sea) after the latter attempted to rape 

Walter Burkert notes that though the story of Hippodamia's abduction figures in the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women 
and on the chest of Cypselus (c. 570 BCE) that was conserved at Olympia, and though preparations for the 
chariot-race figured in the east pediment of the great temple of Zeus at Olympia, the myth of the chariot race only 
became important at Olympia with the introduction of chariot racing in the twenty-fifth Olympiad (680 BCE). G. 
Devereux connected the abduction of Hippodamia with animal husbandry taboos of Elis, and the influence of Elis 
at Olympia that grew in the seventh century. 

Curse of the Pelopidai 

As Myrtilus died, he cursed Pelops for his ultimate betrayal. This was one of the sources of the curse that destroyed 
his family: two of his sons, Atreus and Thyestes, killed a third, Chrysippus, who was his favorite son and was meant 
to inherit the kingdom; Atreus and Thyestes were banished by him together with Hippodamia, their mother, who 
then hanged herself; each successive generation of descendants suffered greatly by atrocious crimes and 
compounded the curse by committing more crimes, as the curse weighed upon Pelops' children, grandchildren, and 
great-grandchildren including Atreus, Thyestes, Agamemnon, Aegisthus, Menelaus, and finally Orestes, who was 
acquitted by a court of law convened by the gods Athena and Apollo. Although commonly referred to as "the curse 
of the Atreides", the circle of atrocious events began two generations before Atreus and continued for two 
generations after him, before being formally absolved by the Furies in court. 



Pelops' cultus 

The shrine of Pelops at Olympia, the Pelopion "drenched in glorious blood", described by Pausanias stood apart 
from the temple of Zeus, next to Pelops' grave-site by the ford in the river. It was enclosed with a circle of stones. 
Pelops was propitiated as a chthonic deity, at night with the offering of a black ram. His remains were contained in a 
chest near the sanctuary of Artemis Kordax (Pausanias 6.22.1), though in earlier times a gigantic shoulder blade was 
shown; during the Trojan War, John Tzetzes said, Pelops' shoulder-blade was brought to Troy by the Greeks because 
the Trojan prophet Helenus claimed the Pelopids would be able to win by doing so. Pausanias was told the full 
story: the shoulder-blade of Pelops was brought to Troy from Pisa, the rival of Elis; on the return, the bone was lost 
in a shipwreck, but afterwards recovered by a fisherman, miraculously caught in his net. 

Giant-sized bones were and are often found in Greece, the remains of gigantic prehistoric animals. In ancient times 
there was obviously no knowledge of dinosaurs or mammoths, and such findings were believed to be actual remains 
of legendary heroes or demigods, and to reflect the supposedly supernatural stature of humans of the long-bygone 
Heroic Age. The bones' provenance was then determined according to local legends about ancient burials, with 
political expedience also playing a major role, helped along by convenient dreams, visions or priestly auguries. 

Pelops, son of Agamemnon 

There is another Pelops in Greek mythology. This was a son of Agamemnon and Cassandra. This Pelops, carrying 
the ancestral name, and his twin brother Teledamus (destined to have been "far-ruling"), the very emblems of the 
Pelopides, were murdered in their infancy by the usurper Aegisthus. 

Pelops image gallery 

"Throne of Pelops" at Yankkaya locality in Mount Sipylus 

Pelops racing for Hippodamia standing next to him in a base 
relief (Metropolitan Museum of Art) 

Pelops 77 


[I] Scholia on Euripides, Orestes, 4; on Pindar, Olympian Ode, 1. 144 
[2] Pseudo-Plutarch, Greek and Roman Parallel Stories, 33 

[3] Pindar, First Olympian Ode. 7 1 . 

[4] Cicero, Tusculanae Disputationes 2.27 .67 (noted in Kerenyi 1959:64). 

[5] Gordon S. Shrimpton (1991). Theopompus the Historian ISBN 978-0-7735-0837-8. McGill-Queen's University Press. 

[6] Burkert, Homo Necans 1983, p 95f. 

[7] G. Devereux, "The abduction of Hippodameia as 'aiton' of a Greek animal husbandry rite" 'SMSRJ6' (1965), pp 3-25. Burkert, in following 

Devereux's thesis, attests Herodotus iv.30, Plutarch's Greek Questions 303b and Pausanias 5.5.2. 
[8] Pindar, First Olympian Ode. 
[9] Pausanias, 5.13.1-3. 
[10] Adrienne Mayor, The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times (Princeton University Press, 2000) discusses the uses 

made of giant fossil bones in Greek cult and myth. 

[II] Pausanias 5.13.4. 

Ancient sources 

• Ovid, Metamorphoses VI, 403-1 1 

• Bibliotheca, Epitome II, 3-9; V, 10 

• Pindar, Olympian Ode I 

• Sophocles, Electra 504 and Oinomaos Fr. 433 

• Euripides, Orestes 1024-1062 

• Diodorus Siculus, Histories 4.73 

• Hyginus, Fables: 84 - Oenomaus 

• Pausanias, Description of Greece 5.1.3-7, 5.13.1, 6.21.9, 8.14.10-11 

• Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 1.30 - Pelops 

• Philostratus the Younger, Imagines 9 - Pelops 

Modern sources 

• Burkert, Walter (1983). "Pelops at Olympia". Homo Necans. University of California Press, pp. 93—103. 

• Kerenyi, Karl (1959). The Heroes of the Greeks. New York/London: Thames and Hudson. 

External links 

• The sacrifice of Pelops, a fully developed story ( compiled 
from selected primary sources to highlight the shamanic and Promethean aspects of the tale. By Pindar's time this 
view would have been rejected. 




In Greek mythology, Amphiaraus (or Amphiaraos, 

"doubly cursed" or "twice Ares-like" ) was the son of 
Oecles and Hypermnestra, and husband of Eriphyle. 
Amphiaraus was the King of Argos along with 
Adrastus — the brother of Amphiaraus' wife, 
Eriphyle — and Iphis. Amphiaraus was a seer, and 
greatly honored in his time. Both Zeus and Apollo 
favored him, and Zeus gave him his oracular talent. In 
the generation before the Trojan War, Amphiaraos was 
one of the heroes present at the Calydonian Boar 




The material of the tragic war of the Seven Against 
Thebes was taken up from several points-of-view by 

each of the three great Greek tragic poets. Eriphyle persuaded Amphiaraus to take part in the raiding venture, against 
his better judgment, for he knew he would die. She had been persuaded by Polynices, who offered her the necklace 
of Harmonia, daughter of Aphrodite, once part of the bride-price of Cadmus, as a bribe for her advocacy. 
Amphiaraus reluctantly agreed to join the doomed undertaking, but aware of his wife's corruption, asked his sons, 
Alcmaeon and Amphilochus to avenge his inevitably coming death by killing her, should he not return. On the way 
to the battle, Amphiaraus repeatedly warned the other warriors that the expedition would fail, and blamed Tydeus 
for starting it. He would eventually prevent Tydeus from being immortalized by Athena because of this. Despite this, 
he was possibly the greatest leader in the attack. During the battle, Amphiaraus killed Melanippus. In the battle, 
Amphiaraus sought to flee from Periclymenus, the "very famous" son of Poseidon, who wanted to kill him, but 
Zeus threw his thunderbolt, and the earth opened to swallow Amphiaraus together with his chariot. Thus chthonic 
hero Amphiaraus was propitiated and consulted at his sanctuary. 

Alcmaeon killed his mother when Amphiaraus died. He was pursued 
by the Erinyes as he fled across Greece, eventually landing the court of 
King Phegeus, who gave him his daughter Alphesiboea in marriage. 
Exhausted, Alcmaeon asked an oracle how to avoid the Erinyes and 
was told that he needed to stop where the sun was not shining when he 
killed his mother. That was the mouth of the river Achelous, which had 
been silted up. Achelous himself, god of that river, promised him his 
daughter, Callirrhoe in marriage if Alcmaeon would retrieve the 
necklace and clothes which Eriphyle wore when she persuaded 
Amphiaraus to take part in the battle. Alcmaeon had given these jewels 
to Phegeus who had his sons kill Alcmaeon when he discovered 
Alcmaeon's plan. 

In a sanctuary at the Amphiareion of Oropos, northwest of Attica, Amphiaraus was worshipped with a hero cult. He 
was considered a healing and fortune-telling god and was associated with Asclepius. The healing and fortune-telling 
aspect of Amphiaraus came from his ancestry: he was related to the great seer Melampus. After making a sacrifice of 
a few coins, or sometimes a ram, at the temple, a petitioner slept inside and received a dream detailing the solution 
to the problem. 

Marble votive relief of a chariot race, from 

Oropos, beginning of the 4th century BCE 

(Pergamonmuseum, Berlin. 

Etruscan tradition inherited by the Romans is doubtless the origin of a son for Amphiaraus named Catillus who 
escaped from the slaughter at Thebes and led an expedition to Italy, where he founded a colony where eventually 

Amphiaraus 79 

appeared the city of Tibur (now Tivoli), named after his eldest son Tiburtus. 
In certain traditions he was said to have had a daughter, Alexida. 


[1] Karl Kerenyi, The Heroes of the Greeks 1959:296. 

[2] Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke, 1.8.2: "Atalanta was the first to shoot the boar in the back with an arrow, and Amphiaraus was the next to 

shoot it in the eye; but Meleager killed it by a stab in the flank..."; it was not arbitrarily nor by chance that Amphiaraus the seer shot the boar in 

the eye. 
[3] Bibliotheke, 3.8.2. 
[4] Apollodorus. Bibliotheke, 3.6.2. 

[5] Karl Kerenyi (The Heroes of the Greeks, 1959, p. 300) noted that the name would also be a suitable epithet for Hades. 
[6] Pindar, Ninth Nemean Ode. 
[7] See Incubation (ritual). 


Akademos (Ancient Greek: AKaSrpoq) (or Hekademos (TiKa5r||.io<;), Academus, or Hecademus) was an Attic 
hero in Greek mythology. The tale traditionally told of him is that when Castor and Pollux invaded Attica to liberate 
their sister Helen, he betrayed to them that she was kept concealed at Aphidnae. For this reason the Tyndarids always 
showed him much gratitude, and whenever the Lacedaemonians invaded Attica, they always spared the land 
belonging to Academus which lay on the Cephissus, six stadia from Athens. This piece of land was 

subsequently adorned with plane and olive plantations, and was called Academia from its original owner. 

His name was linked to the archaic name for the site of Plato's Academy, the Hekademeia, outside the walls of 
Athens. The site was sacred to Athena, the goddess of wisdom, and other immortals; it had sheltered her religious 
cult since the Bronze Age, which was perhaps associated with the hero-gods, the Dioskouroi (Castor and 
Polydeukes), for the hero Akademos associated with the site was credited with revealing to the Divine Twins where 
Theseus had hidden Helen of Troy. By classical times the name of the place had evolved into the Akademeia. Its 
sacred grove furnished the olive oil that was distributed as prizes in the Panathenaic Games and contained in the 
finely decorated Panathenaic amphorae presented to the winners. 

Akademeia was the source of the word "academy" '. The expression "the Grove of Academe" refers to the sacred site 
of Hekademos where the cult had once taken place in an olive grove sacred to Athena. 


[1] Plutarch, Theseus 32 
[2] Diogenes Laertius iii. L § 9 
[3] Plutarch, Cimon 13 

[4] Schmitz, Leonhard (1867), "Academus" (, in Smith, William, Dictionary of Greek 
and Roman Biography and Mythology, 1, Boston, pp. 5, 

(|> This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Smith, William, ed. (1867). " 


". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology . 

Alexander the Great 


Alexander the Great 

Alexander the Great 

Alexander fighting the Persian king Darius III of PersiaDarius III. From Alexander Mosaic, Naples National Archaeological Museum 

Alexander fighting the Persian king Darius III. From Alexander Mosaic, Naples National Archaeological Museum 

King of Macedonia 


336-323 BC 


Philip II of Macedon 

• Alexander IV 

• Philip III of Macedon 

Pharaoh of Egypt 


332-323 BC 


Darius III 


Alexander IV 
Philip III 

King of Persia 


330-323 BC 


Darius III 


Alexander IV 
Philip III 


Roxana of Bactria 
Stateira II of Persia 
Parysatis II of Persia 


Alexander IV 

Full name 

Alexander III of Macedon 


Philip II of Macedon 


Olympias of Epirus 


20 or 21 July 356 BC 

Pella, Macedon 


10 or 11 June 323 BC (aged 32) 


Greek polytheism 

Alexander III of Macedon (20/21 July 356 — 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great 

(Greek: 'AXi^avbpoq 6 Miyaq, Alexandros ho Megas from the Greek aki^m alexo "to defend, help" + avr]p aner 
"man"), was a king of Macedon, a state in northern ancient Greece. Born in Pella in 356 BC, Alexander was tutored 
by Aristotle until the age of 16. By the age of thirty, he had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world, 
stretching from the Ionian Sea to the Himalayas. He was undefeated in battle and is considered one of history's 

most successful commanders 


Alexander the Great 


Alexander succeeded his father, Philip II of Macedon, to the throne in 336 BC after Philip was assassinated. Upon 
Philip's death, Alexander inherited a strong kingdom and an experienced army. He was awarded the generalship of 
Greece and used this authority to launch his father's military expansion plans. In 334 BC, he invaded Persian-ruled 
Asia Minor and began a series of campaigns that lasted ten years. Alexander broke the power of Persia in a series of 
decisive battles, most notably the battles of Issus and Gaugamela. He subsequently overthrew the Persian King 
Darius III and conquered the entirety of the Persian Empire. At that point, his empire stretched from the Adriatic 
Sea to the Indus River. 

Seeking to reach the "ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea", he invaded India in 326 BC, but was eventually 
forced to turn back at the demand of his troops. Alexander died in Babylon in 323 BC, without executing a series of 
planned campaigns that would have begun with an invasion of Arabia. In the years following his death, a series of 
civil wars tore his empire apart, resulting in several states ruled by the Diadochi, Alexander's surviving generals and 

Alexander's legacy includes the cultural diffusion his conquests engendered. He founded some twenty cities that bore 
his name, most notably Alexandria in Egypt. Alexander's settlement of Greek colonists and the resulting spread of 
Greek culture in the east resulted in a new Hellenistic civilization, aspects of which were still evident in the 
traditions of the Byzantine Empire in the mid-15th century. Alexander became legendary as a classical hero in the 
mold of Achilles, and he features prominently in the history and myth of Greek and non-Greek cultures. He became 
the measure against which military leaders compared themselves, and military academies throughout the world still 

teach his tactics 


Early life 

Lineage and childhood 

Alexander was born on the 6th day of the ancient Greek month of 

Hekatombaion, which probably corresponds to 20 July 356 BC, 

although the exact date is not known, in Pella, the capital of the 

Ancient Greek Kingdom of Macedon. He was the son of the king of 

Macedon, Philip II, and his fourth wife, Olympias, the daughter of 

Neoptolemus I, king of Epirus. Although Philip had seven or 

eight wives, Olympias was his principal wife for some time, likely a 

result of giving birth to Alexander. 


Several legends surround Alexander's birth and childhood. 

According to the ancient Greek biographer Plutarch, Olympias, on the 

eve of the consummation of her marriage to Philip, dreamed that her 

womb was struck by a thunder bolt, causing a flame that spread "far 

and wide" before dying away. Some time after the wedding, Philip is 

said to have seen himself, in a dream, securing his wife's womb with a 

seal engraved with a lion's image. Plutarch offered a variety of 

interpretations of these dreams: that Olympias was pregnant before her 

marriage, indicated by the sealing of her womb; or that Alexander's 

father was Zeus. Ancient commentators were divided about whether 

the ambitious Olympias promulgated the story of Alexander's divine parentage, variously claiming that she had told 

Alexander, or that she dismissed the suggestion as impious 

Bust of a young Alexander the Great from the 
Hellenistic era, British Museum 


Alexander the Great 


On the day that Alexander was born, Philip was preparing a siege on 
the city of Potidea on the peninsula of Chalcidice. That same day, 
Philip received news that his general Parmenion had defeated the 
combined Illyrian and Paeonian armies, and that his horses had won at 
the Olympic Games. It was also said that on this day, the Temple of 
Artemis in Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, burnt 
down. This led Hegesias of Magnesia to say that it had burnt down 


because Artemis was away, attending the birth of Alexander. 
Such legends may have emerged when Alexander was king, and 
possibly at his own instigation, to show that he was superhuman and 
destined for greatness from conception 


Aristotle tutoring Alexander, by Jean Leon 
Gerome Ferris 

In his early years, Alexander was raised by a nurse, Lanike, sister of 
Alexander's future general Cleitus the Black. Later in his childhood, 
Alexander was tutored by the strict Leonidas, a relative of his mother, 
and by Philip's general Lysimachus. Alexander was raised in the 
manner of noble Macedonian youths, learning to read, play the lyre, 
ride, fight, and hunt 


A statue showing Alexander taming Bucephalus 
in Edinburgh 

When Alexander was ten years old, a trader from Thessaly brought 
Philip a horse, which he offered to sell for thirteen talents. The horse 
refused to be mounted and Philip ordered it away. Alexander however, 
detecting the horse's fear of its own shadow, asked to tame the horse, 
which he eventually managed. Plutarch stated that Philip, overjoyed at this display of courage and ambition, 
kissed his son tearfully, declaring: "My boy, you must find a kingdom big enough for your ambitions. Macedon is 
too small for you", and bought the horse for him. Alexander named it Bucephalas, meaning "ox-head". 
Bucephalas carried Alexander as far as India. When the animal died (due to old age, according to Plutarch, at age 
thirty), Alexander named a city after him, Bucephala. 


Adolescence and education 

When Alexander was 13, Philip began to search for a tutor, and considered such academics as Isocrates and 
Speusippus, the latter offering to resign to take up the post. In the end, Philip chose Aristotle and provided the 
Temple of the Nymphs at Mieza as a classroom. In return for teaching Alexander, Philip agreed to rebuild Aristotle's 
hometown of Stageira, which Philip had razed, and to repopulate it by buying and freeing the ex-citizens who were 
slaves, or pardoning those who were in exile. 

Mieza was like a boarding school for Alexander and the children of Macedonian nobles, such as Ptolemy, 
Hephaistion, and Cassander. Many of these students would become his friends and future generals, and are often 
known as the 'Companions'. Aristotle taught Alexander and his companions about medicine, philosophy, morals, 

religion, logic, and art. Under Aristotle's tutelage, Alexander developed a passion for the works of Homer, and in 

n Rir2i ir?2i 
particular the Iliad; Aristotle gave him an annotated copy, which Alexander later carried on his campaigns. 

Alexander the Great 


Philip's heir 

Regency and ascent of Macedon 

At age 16, Alexander's education under Aristotle ended. Philip 
waged war against Byzantion, leaving Alexander in charge as 
regent and heir apparent. During Philip's absence, the Thracian 
Maedi revolted against Macedonia. Alexander responded quickly, 
driving them from their territory. He colonized it with Greeks, and 
founded a city named Alexandropolis. 

Upon Philip's return, he dispatched Alexander with a small force 
to subdue revolts in southern Thrace. Campaigning against the 
Greek city of Perinthus, Alexander is reported to have saved his 
father's life. Meanwhile, the city of Amphissa began to work lands 
that were sacred to Apollo near Delphi, a sacrilege that gave Philip 
the opportunity to further intervene in Greek affairs. Still occupied 
in Thrace, he ordered Alexander to muster an army for a campaign 
in Greece. Concerned that other Greek states might intervene, 
Alexander made it look as though he was preparing to attack 
Illyria instead. During this turmoil, the Illyrians invaded 

Macedonia, only to be repelled by Alexander 


Philip II of Macedon, Alexander's father 

Philip and his army joined his son in 338 BC, and they marched 
south through Thermopylae, taking it after stubborn resistance 
from its Theban garrison. They went on to occupy the city of Elatea, only a few days' march from both Athens and 

Thebes. The Athenians, led by Demosthenes, voted to seek alliance with Thebes against Macedonia. Both Athens 

- r27ir?Rir2Qi 

and Philip sent embassies to win Thebes' favor, but Athens won the contest. Philip marched on Amphissa 

(ostensibly acting on the request of the Amphictyonic League), capturing the mercenaries sent there by Demosthenes 

and accepting the city's surrender. Philip then returned to Elatea, sending a final offer of peace to Athens and Thebes, 

who both rejected it. [30][31][32] 

Alexander the Great 


As Philip marched south, his opponents blocked him near Chaeronea, 
Boeotia. During the ensuing Battle of Chaeronea, Philip commanded 
the right wing and Alexander the left, accompanied by a group of 
Philip's trusted generals. According to the ancient sources, the two 
sides fought bitterly for some time. Philip deliberately commanded his 
troops to retreat, counting on the untested Athenian hoplites to follow, 
thus breaking their line. Alexander was the first to break the Theban 
lines, followed by Philip's generals. Having damaged the enemy's 
cohesion, Philip ordered his troops to press forward and quickly routed 
them. With the Athenians lost, the Thebans were surrounded. Left to 

fight alone, they were defeated 


After the victory at Chaeronea, Philip and Alexander marched 

unopposed into the Peloponnese, welcomed by all cities; however, 

when they reached Sparta, they were refused, but did not resort to 

war. At Corinth, Philip established a "Hellenic Alliance" (modeled 

on the old anti-Persian alliance of the Greco-Persian Wars), which 

included most Greek city-states except Sparta. Philip was then named 

Hegemon (often translated as "Supreme Commander") of this league 

(known by modern scholars as the League of Corinth), and announced 

his plans to attack the Persian Empire. 

Exile and return 

Statue of Alexander in Istanbul Archaeology 

When Philip returned to Pella, he fell in love with and married Cleopatra Eurydice, the niece of his general 
Attalus. The marriage made Alexander's position as heir less secure, since any son of Cleopatra Eurydice would 
be a fully Macedonian heir, while Alexander was only half-Macedonian. During the wedding banquet, a drunken 
Attalus publicly prayed to the gods that the union would produce a legitimate heir. 


At the wedding of Cleopatra, whom Philip fell in love with and married, she being much too young for him, 
her uncle Attalus in his drink desired the Macedonians would implore the gods to give them a lawful successor 
to the kingdom by his niece. This so irritated Alexander, that throwing one of the cups at his head, "You 
villain," said he, "what, am I then a bastard?" Then Philip, taking Attalus's part, rose up and would have run 
his son through; but by good fortune for them both, either his over-hasty rage, or the wine he had drunk, made 
his foot slip, so that he fell down on the floor. At which Alexander reproachfully insulted over him: "See 
there," said he, "the man who makes preparations to pass out of Europe into Asia, overturned in passing from 
one seat to another." 

— Plutarch, describing the feud at Philip's wedding. 

Alexander fled Macedon with his mother, dropping her off with her brother, King Alexander I of Epirus in Dodona, 
capital of the Molossians. He continued to Illyria, where he sought refuge with the Illyrian King and was 
treated as a guest, despite having defeated them in battle a few years before. However, it appears Philip never 
intended to disown his politically and militarily trained son. Accordingly, Alexander returned to Macedon after 

six months due to the efforts of a family friend, Demaratus the Corinthian, who mediated between the two 

.. [4l][42] 

In the following year, the Persian satrap (governor) of Caria, Pixodarus, offered his eldest daughter to Alexander's 
half-brother, Philip Arrhidaeus. Olympias and several of Alexander's friends suggested this showed Philip 
intended to make Arrhidaeus his heir. Alexander reacted by sending an actor, Thessalus of Corinth, to tell 
Pixodarus that he should not offer his daughter's hand to an illegitimate son, but instead to Alexander. When Philip 

Alexander the Great 


heard of this, he stopped the negotiations and scolded Alexander for wishing to marry the daughter of a Carian, 
explaining that he wanted a better bride for him. Philip exiled four of Alexander's friends, Harpalus, Nearchus, 
Ptolemy and Erigyius, and had the Corinthians bring Thessalus to him in chains. 

King of Macedon 


In 336 BC, while at Aegae attending 
the wedding of his daughter Cleopatra 
to Olympias's brother, Alexander I of 
Epirus, Philip was assassinated by the 
captain of his bodyguards, 
Pausanias. As Pausanias tried to 
escape, he tripped over a vine and was 
killed by his pursuers, including two of 
Alexander's companions, Perdiccas 
and Leonnatus. Alexander was 
proclaimed king by the nobles and 
army at the age of 20. 

THRACE (343-342 BC) 

Amphipplis (356 BC) . 


■ Pella 
oni (355 BC). 
Pydna(356BC)» I 

'Dion Potidea(356BC) 


(343-342 BC) 

The Kingdom of Maced 
at the death of Philip II (336 BC) 

• City 

• Macedonian garrison 
T^r Important 

^ Kingdom of Macedonia 
Dependent territories 
Kingdom of the Molossians 

le Leagoe of Corinth 

Persian Empi 

The Kingdom of Macedon in 336 BC. 

Consolidation of power 

Alexander began his reign by 

eliminating potential rivals to the 

throne. He had his cousin, the former 

Amyntas IV, executed. He also had two Macedonian princes from the region of Lyncestis killed, but spared a 

third, Alexander Lyncestes. Olympias had Cleopatra Eurydice and Europa, her daughter by Philip, burned alive. 

When Alexander learned about this, he was furious. Alexander also ordered the murder of Attalus 

command of the advance guard of the army in Asia Minor and Cleopatra's uncle. 


who was in 

Attalus was at that time corresponding with Demosthenes, regarding the possibility of defecting to Athens. Attalus 
also had severely insulted Alexander, and following Cleopatra's murder, Alexander may have considered him too 
dangerous to leave alive. Alexander spared Arrhidaeus, who was by all accounts mentally disabled, possibly as a 
result of poisoning by Olympias. 

News of Philip's death roused many states into revolt, including Thebes, Athens, Thessaly, and the Thracian tribes 
north of Macedon. When news of the revolts reached Alexander, he responded quickly. Though advised to use 
diplomacy, Alexander mustered the Macedonian cavalry of 3,000 and rode south towards Thessaly. He found the 
Thessalian army occupying the pass between Mount Olympus and Mount Ossa, and ordered his men to ride over 
Mount Ossa. When the Thessalians awoke the next day, they found Alexander in their rear and promptly 
surrendered, adding their cavalry to Alexander's force. He then continued south towards the 
Peloponnese. [51][52][53][54] 

Alexander stopped at Thermopylae, where he was recognized as the leader of the Amphictyonic League before 
heading south to Corinth. Athens sued for peace and Alexander pardoned the rebels. The famous encounter between 
Alexander and Diogenes the Cynic occurred during Alexander's stay in Corinth. When Alexander asked Diogenes 
what he could do for him, the philosopher disdainfully asked Alexander to stand a little to the side, as he was 
blocking the sunlight. This reply apparently delighted Alexander, who is reported to have said "But verily, if I 
were not Alexander, I would like to be Diogenes." At Corinth Alexander took the title of Hegemon ("leader"), and 

Alexander the Great 


like Philip, was appointed commander for the coming war against Persia. He also received news of a Thracian 

• • [52] [57] 

Balkan campaign 

Before crossing to Asia, Alexander wanted to safeguard his northern borders. In the spring of 335 BC, he advanced 

to suppress several revolts. Starting from Amphipolis, he traveled east into the country of the "Independent 

Thracians"; and at Mount Haemus, the Macedonian army attacked and defeated the Thracian forces manning the 

heights. The Macedonians marched into the country of the Triballi, and defeated their army near the Lyginus 

river (a tributary of the Danube). Alexander then marched for three days to the Danube, encountering the Getae 

tribe on the opposite shore. Crossing the river at night, he surprised them and forced their army to retreat after the 

first cavalry skirmish. 

News then reached Alexander that Cleitus, King of Illyria, and King Glaukias of the Taulanti were in open revolt 
against his authority. Marching west into Illyria, Alexander defeated each in turn, forcing the two rulers to flee with 
their troops. With these victories, he secured his northern frontier. 

While Alexander campaigned north, the Thebans and Athenians rebelled once again. Alexander immediately headed 
south. While the other cities again hesitated, Thebes decided to fight. The Theban resistance was ineffective, and 
Alexander razed the city and divided its territory between the other Boeotian cities. The end of Thebes cowed 
Athens, leaving all of Greece temporarily at peace. Alexander then set out on his Asian campaign, leaving 

Antipater as regent 


Conquest of the Persian Empire 

Asia Minor 

Further information: Battle of the Granicus, Siege of Halicarnassus, and Siege of Miletus 

Alexander's army crossed the 
Hellespont in 334 BC with 
approximately 48,100 soldiers, 6,100 
cavalry and a fleet of 120 ships with 
crews numbering 38,000, drawn 
from Macedon and various Greek 
city-states, mercenaries, and 

feudally-raised soldiers from Thrace, 
Paionia, and Illyria. He showed his 
intent to conquer the entirety of the 
Persian Empire by throwing a spear 
into Asian soil and saying he accepted 

Map of Alexander's empire and his route. 


Asia as a gift from the gods. This also showed Alexander's eagerness to fight, in contrast to his father's preference 
for diplomacy 


After an initial victory against Persian forces at the Battle of the Granicus, Alexander accepted the surrender of the 
Persian provincial capital and treasury of Sardis and proceeded along the Ionian coast. At Halicarnassus, in Caria, 
Alexander successfully waged the first of many sieges, eventually forcing his opponents, the mercenary captain 
Memnon of Rhodes and the Persian satrap of Caria, Orontobates, to withdraw by sea. Alexander left the 
government of Caria to Ada, who adopted Alexander. 

From Halicarnassus, Alexander proceeded into mountainous Lycia and the Pamphylian plain, asserting control over 
all coastal cities to deny the Persians naval bases. From Pamphylia onwards the coast held no major ports and 

Alexander the Great 


Alexander moved inland. At Termessos, Alexander humbled but did not storm the Pisidian city. At the ancient 

Phrygian capital of Gordium, Alexander "undid" the hitherto unsolvable Gordian Knot, a feat said to await the future 

"king of Asia". According to the story, Alexander proclaimed that it did not matter how the knot was undone and 

hacked it apart with his sword. 

The Levant and Syria 

Further information: Battle of Issus and Siege of Tyre 

After spending the winter campaigning in 
Asia Minor, Alexander's army crossed the 
Cilician Gates in 333 BC, and defeated the 
main Persian army under the command of 

Darius III at the Battle of Issus in 

November. Darius fled the battle, 

causing his army to collapse, and left behind 

his wife, his two daughters, his mother 

Sisygambis, and a fabulous treasure. He 

offered a peace treaty that included the lands 

he had already lost, and a ransom of 10,000 

Detail of Alexander Mosaic, showing Battle of Issus, from the House of the Faun, 


talents for his family. Alexander replied that since he was now king of Asia, it was he alone who decided territorial 




Alexander proceeded to take possession of Syria, and most of the coast of the Levant. In the following year, 

r~"7fil r"7"7"1 

332 BC, he was forced to attack Tyre, which he captured after a long and difficult siege. Alexander massacred 


the men of military age and sold the women and children into slavery. 


Further information: Siege of Gaza 

When Alexander destroyed Tyre, most of the towns on 
the route to Egypt quickly capitulated, with the 
exception of Gaza. The stronghold at Gaza was heavily 
fortified and built on a hill, requiring a siege. After 
three unsuccessful assaults, the stronghold fell, but not 
before Alexander had received a serious shoulder 
wound. As in Tyre, men of military age were put to the 
sword and the women and children sold into 

Jerusalem instead opened its gates in surrender, and 
according to Josephus, Alexander was shown the book 
of Daniel's prophecy, presumably chapter 8, which 
described a mighty Greek king who would conquer the 
Persian Empire. He spared Jerusalem and pushed south into Egypt 

Name of Alexander the Great in Egyptian hieroglyphs (written from 
right to left), circa 330 BC, Egypt. Louvre Museum. 



Alexander advanced on Egypt in later 332 BC, where he was regarded as a liberator. He was pronounced the new 

"master of the Universe" and son of the deity of Amun at the Oracle of Siwa Oasis in the Libyan desert 


Henceforth, Alexander often referred to Zeus-Ammon as his true father, and subsequent currency depicted him 
adorned with rams horn as a symbol of his divinity. During his stay in Egypt, he founded Alexandria-by-Egypt, 


which would become the prosperous capital of the Ptolemaic Kingdom after his death. 

Alexander the Great 

Assyria and Babylonia 

Further information: Battle of Gaugamela 

Leaving Egypt in 331 BC, Alexander marched eastward into Mesopotamia (now northern Iraq) and again defeated 
Darius, at the Battle of Gaugamela. Darius once more fled the field, and Alexander chased him as far as Arbela. 
Gaugamela would be the final and decisive encounter between the two. Darius fled over the mountains to Ecbatana 


(modern Hamedan), while Alexander captured Babylon. 


Further information: Battle of the Persian Gate 


From Babylon, Alexander went to Susa, one of the Achaemenid capitals, and captured its legendary treasury. He 
sent the bulk of his army to the Persian ceremonial capital of Persepolis via the Royal Road. Alexander himself took 
selected troops on the direct route to the city. He had to storm the pass of the Persian Gates (in the modern Zagros 
Mountains) which had been blocked by a Persian army under Ariobarzanes and then hurried to Persepolis before its 


garrison could loot the treasury. 

On entering Persepolis, Alexander allowed his troops to loot the city for several days. Alexander stayed in 
Persepolis for five months. During his stay a fire broke out in the eastern palace of Xerxes and spread to the rest 
of the city. Possible causes include a drunken accident or deliberate revenge for the burning of the Acropolis of 
Athens during the Second Persian War 


Fall of the Empire and the East 


Alexander then chased Darius, first into Media, and then Parthia. The Persian king no longer controlled his own 

destiny, and was taken prisoner by Bessus, his Bactrian satrap and kinsman. As Alexander approached, Bessus 

had his men fatally stab the Great King and then declared himself Darius' successor as Artaxerxes V, before 


retreating into Central Asia to launch a guerrilla campaign against Alexander. Alexander buried Darius' remains 

next to his Achaemenid predecessors in a regal funeral. He claimed that, while dying, Darius had named him as 

his successor to the Achaemenid throne. The Achaemenid Empire is normally considered to have fallen with 



Alexander viewed Bessus as a usurper and set out to 
defeat him. This campaign, initially against Bessus, 
turned into a grand tour of central Asia. Alexander 
founded a series of new cities, all called Alexandria, 
including modern Kandahar in Afghanistan, and 
Alexandria Eschate ("The Furthest") in modern 
Tajikistan. The campaign took Alexander through 
Media, Parthia, Aria (West Afghanistan), Drangiana, 
Arachosia (South and Central Afghanistan), Bactria 
(North and Central Afghanistan), and Scythia 


Silver coin of Alexander wearing the lion scalp of Herakles, British 

Spitamenes, who held an undefined position in the 

satrapy of Sogdiana, in 329 BC betrayed Bessus to Ptolemy, one of Alexander's trusted companions, and Bessus was 

executed. However, when, at some point later, Alexander was on the Jaxartes dealing with an incursion by a 

horse nomad army, Spitamenes raised Sogdiana in revolt. Alexander personally defeated the Scythians at the Battle 

of Jaxartes and immediately launched a campaign against Spitamenes, defeating him in the Battle of Gabai. After the 

defeat, Spitamenes was killed by his own men, who then sued for peace 


Alexander the Great 

Problems and plots 

During this time, Alexander took the Persian title "King of Kings" {Shahanshah) and adopted some elements of 
Persian dress and customs at his court, notably the custom of proskynesis, either a symbolic kissing of the hand, or 
prostration on the ground, that Persians showed to their social superiors. The Greeks regarded the gesture as the 
province of deities and believed that Alexander meant to deify himself by requiring it. This cost him the sympathies 
of many of his countrymen, and he eventually abandoned it. 

A plot against his life was revealed, and one of his officers, Philotas, was executed for failing to alert Alexander. The 
death of the son necessitated the death of the father, and thus Parmenion, who had been charged with guarding the 
treasury at Ecbatana, was assassinated at Alexander's command, to prevent attempts at vengeance. Most infamously, 
Alexander personally killed the man who had saved his life at Granicus, Cleitus the Black, during a drunken 
argument at Maracanda. 

Later, in the Central Asian campaign, a second plot against his life was revealed, this one instigated by his own royal 
pages. His official historian, Callisthenes of Olynthus, was implicated in the plot; however, historians have yet to 
reach consensus regarding this involvement. Callisthenes had fallen out of favor by leading the opposition to the 
attempt to introduce proskynesis. 

Macedon in Alexander's absence 

When Alexander set out for Asia, he left his general Antipater, an experienced military and political leader and part 
of Philip II's "Old Guard", in charge of Macedon. Alexander's sacking of Thebes ensured that Greece remained 
quiet during his absence. The one exception was a call to arms by Spartan king Agis III in 331 BC, whom 
Antipater defeated and killed in battle at Megalopolis the following year. Antipater referred the Spartans' 
punishment to Alexander, who chose to pardon them. There was also considerable friction between Antipater 
and Olympias, and each complained to Alexander about the other. 

In general, Greece enjoyed a period of peace and prosperity during Alexander's campaign in Asia. Alexander 
sent back vast sums from his conquest, which stimulated the economy and increased trade across his empire. 
However, Alexander's constant demands for troops and the migration of Macedonians throughout his empire 
depleted Macedon's manpower, greatly weakening it in the years after Alexander, and ultimately led to its 
subjugation by Rome. 

Alexander the Great 


Indian campaign 

Invasion of the Indian subcontinent 

After the death of Spitamenes and his marriage to Roxana 
(Roshanak in Bactrian) to cement relations with his new satrapies, 
Alexander turned to the Indian subcontinent. He invited the 
chieftains of the former satrapy of Gandhara, in the north of what 
is now Pakistan, to come to him and submit to his authority. 
Omphis, ruler of Taxila, whose kingdom extended from the Indus 
to the Hydaspes, complied, but the chieftains of some hill clans, 
including the Aspasioi and Assakenoi sections of the Kambojas 
(known in Indian texts also as Ashvayanas and Ashvakayanas), 
refused to submit 


In the winter of 327/326 BC, Alexander personally led a campaign 
against these clans; the Aspasioi of Kunar valleys, the Guraeans of 
the Guraeus valley, and the Assakenoi of the Swat and Buner 
valleys. A fierce contest ensued with the Aspasioi in which 
Alexander was wounded in the shoulder by a dart, but eventually 
the Aspasioi lost. Alexander then faced the Assakenoi, who fought 

in the strongholds of Massaga, Ora and Aornos 


The phalanx attacking the centre in the battle of the 
Hydaspes by Andre Castaigne (1898-1899) 

The fort of Massaga was reduced only after days of bloody 

fighting, in which Alexander was wounded seriously in the ankle. 

According to Curtius, "Not only did Alexander slaughter the entire 

population of Massaga, but also did he reduce its buildings to rubble". A similar slaughter followed at Ora. In the 

aftermath of Massaga and Ora, numerous Assakenians fled to the fortress of Aornos. Alexander followed close 

behind and captured the strategic hill-fort after four bloody days 


After Aornos, Alexander crossed the Indus and fought and won an epic battle against King Poms, who ruled a region 
in the Punjab, in the Battle of the Hydaspes in 326 BC. Alexander was impressed by Porus's bravery, and made 
him an ally. He appointed Poms as satrap, and added to Poms' territory land that he did not previously own. 
Choosing a local helped him control these lands so distant from Greece 


Alexander founded two cities on 


opposite sides of the Hydaspes river, naming one Bucephala, in honor of his horse, who died around this time 
The other was Nicaea (Victory) located at the site of modern day Mong, Punjab. 

Alexander the Great 


Revolt of the army 

East of Poms' kingdom, near the Ganges 
River, were the Nanda Empire of Magadha 
and further east the Gangaridai Empire of 
Bengal. Fearing the prospect of facing other 
large armies and exhausted by years of 
campaigning, Alexander's army mutinied at 
the Hyphasis River, refusing to march farther 
east. This river thus marks the easternmost 

extent of Alexander's conquests 







..iii".".".»*" „ Altj xandrja 
Maracanda " Escha te 

►&A*CfR|LA / 

As for the Macedonians, however, their 
struggle with Poms blunted their 
courage and stayed their further 
advance into India. For having had all 
they could do to repulse an enemy who 
mustered only twenty thousand 
infantry and two thousand horse, they 
violently opposed Alexander when he 
insisted on crossing the river Ganges 
also, the width of which, as they 
learned, was thirty-two furlongs, its 
depth a hundred fathoms, while its 
banks on the further side were covered 
with multitudes of men-at-arms and 
horsemen and elephants. For they were 
told that the kings of the Ganderites and 
hundred thousand footmen, eight thousand 



(Caucasus Indie us)* 


Alexandria.. , 
.♦in Arachosia •. . 

Bactra ' '■jl'J'7, 


T?™} a Bucephala 


1*f\ SfegaYa, asis 





,* Alexandria | £' 
.-* on the Indus £ ° 

GEDROSIA k'jff \ 

'$• ■ ■ • 
"... M *♦. Pa/afca 


Alexandria ■: 

\4 I- 

• Cities founded by Alexander 


Alexander's invasion of the Indian subcontinent. 

Praesii were awaiting them with eighty thousand horsemen, two 
chariots, and six thousand war elephants. 

Alexander tried to persuade his soldiers to march farther, but his general Coenus pleaded with him to change his 
opinion and return; the men, he said, "longed to again see their parents, their wives and children, their homeland". 
Alexander eventually agreed and turned south, marching along the Indus. Along the way his army conquered the 
Malli clans (in modern day Multan) and other Indian tribes. 

Alexander sent much of his army to Carmania (modern southern Iran) with general Craterus, and commissioned a 
fleet to explore the Persian Gulf shore under his admiral Nearchus, while he led the rest back to Persia through the 
more difficult southern route along the Gedrosian Desert and Makran (now part of southern Iran and Pakistan) 


Alexander reached Susa in 324 BC, but not before losing many men to the harsh desert 


Alexander the Great 


Last years in Persia 

Discovering that many of his satraps and military governors had 
misbehaved in his absence, Alexander executed several of them as 
examples on his way to Susa. As a gesture of thanks, he paid 

off the debts of his soldiers, and announced that he would send 
over-aged and disabled veterans back to Macedon, led by Craterus. His 
troops misunderstood his intention and mutinied at the town of Opis. 
They refused to be sent away and criticized his adoption of Persian 
customs and dress and the introduction of Persian officers and soldiers 


into Macedonian units. 

Alexander, left, and Hephaestion, right 

After three days, unable to persuade his men to back down, Alexander 
gave Persians command posts in the army and conferred Macedonian military titles upon Persian units. The 
Macedonians quickly begged forgiveness, which Alexander accepted, and held a great banquet for several thousand 
of his men at which he and they ate together. In an attempt to craft a lasting harmony between his Macedonian 
and Persian subjects, Alexander held a mass marriage of his senior officers to Persian and other noblewomen at 
Susa, but few of those marriages seem to have lasted much beyond a year. Meanwhile, upon his return, 

Alexander learned that guards of the tomb of Cyrus the Great had desecrated it, and swiftly executed them 


After Alexander traveled to Ecbatana to retrieve the bulk of the Persian treasure, his closest friend and possible 
lover, Hephaestion, died of illness or poisoning. Hephaestion's death devastated Alexander, and he ordered 

the preparation of an expensive funeral pyre in Babylon, as well as a decree for public mourning. Back in 
Babylon, Alexander planned a series of new campaigns, beginning with an invasion of Arabia, but he would not 

ri to] 

have a chance to realize them, as he died shortly thereafter. 

Death and succession 

On either 10 or 11 June 323 BC, Alexander died in the palace of 
Nebuchadnezzar II, in Babylon, at age 32. Details of the death 

differ slightly — Plutarch's account is that roughly 14 days before his 
death, Alexander entertained admiral Nearchus, and spent the night and 
next day drinking with Medius of Larissa 


He developed a fever, which worsened until he was unable to speak. 
The common soldiers, anxious about his health, were granted the right 
to file past him as he silently waved at them. Diodorus recounts 
that Alexander was struck with pain after downing a large bowl of 
unmixed wine in honour of Hercules, and died after some agony. 
Arrian also mentioned this as an alternative, but Plutarch specifically 
denied this claim. 

Given the propensity of the Macedonian aristocracy to assassination, foul play featured in multiple accounts of 
his death. Diodorus, Plutarch, Arrian and Justin all mentioned the theory that Alexander was poisoned. Plutarch 


dismissed it as a fabrication, while both Diodorus and Arrian noted that they mentioned it only for the sake of 

A Babylonian astronomical diary (c. 323—322 

BC) recording the death of Alexander (British 

Museum, London) 

Alexander the Great 


The accounts were nevertheless fairly consistent in designating 
Antipater, recently removed as Macedonian viceroy, and at odds with 
Olympias, as the head of the alleged plot. Perhaps taking his summons 
to Babylon as a death sentence, and having seen the fate of 

Parmenion and Philotas, " Antipater purportedly arranged for 
Alexander to be poisoned by his son Iollas, who was Alexander's 
wine-pourer. There was even a suggestion that Aristotle may 

have participated. 

Nineteenth century depiction of Alexander's 

funeral procession based on the description of 


The strongest argument against the poison theory is the fact that twelve days passed between the start of his illness 

and his death; such long-acting poisons were probably not available. In 2010, however, a new theory proposed 

that the circumstances of his death were compatible with poisoning by water of the river Styx (Mavroneri) that 

ri qq] 

contained calicheamicin, a dangerous compound produced by bacteria. 

Several natural causes (diseases) have been suggested, including malaria and typhoid fever. A 1998 article in the 
New England Journal of Medicine attributed his death to typhoid fever complicated by bowel perforation and 
ascending paralysis. Another recent analysis suggested pyrogenic spondylitis or meningitis. Other illnesses 
fit the symptoms, including acute pancreatitis and West Nile virus. 

Natural-cause theories also tend to emphasise that Alexander's health may have been in general decline after years of 

heavy drinking and severe wounds. The anguish that Alexander felt after Hephaestion's death may also have 

contributed to his declining health. " The most likely possible cause is an overdose of medication containing 

hellebore, which is deadly in large doses 


After death 

Alexander's body was laid in a gold anthropoid 
sarcophagus, which was in turn placed in a gold 
casket. According to Aelian, a seer called 

Aristander foretold that the land where Alexander was 
laid to rest "would be happy and unvanquishable 
forever". Perhaps more likely, the successors may 
have seen possession of the body as a symbol of 
legitimacy, since burying the prior king was a royal 



Detail of Alexander on the Alexander Sarcophagus. 

While Alexander's funeral cortege was on its way to 

Macedon, Ptolemy stole it and took it to 

Memphis. His successor, Ptolemy II 

Philadelphus, transferred the sarcophagus to Alexandria, where it remained until at least late Antiquity. Ptolemy IX 

Lathyros, one of Ptolemy's final successors, replaced Alexander's sarcophagus with a glass one so he could convert 

the original to coinage. 

Pompey, Julius Caesar and Augustus all visited the tomb in Alexandria. The latter allegedly accidentally knocked the 
nose off the body. Caligula was said to have taken Alexander's breastplate from the tomb for his own use. In c. AD 
200, Emperor Septimius Severus closed Alexander's tomb to the public. His son and successor, Caracalla, a great 
admirer, visited the tomb during his own reign. After this, details on the fate of the tomb are hazy. 

The so-called "Alexander Sarcophagus", discovered near Sidon and now in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum, is so 
named not because it was thought to have contained Alexander's remains, but because its bas-reliefs depict 
Alexander and his companions fighting the Persians and hunting. It was originally thought to have been the 

Alexander the Great 


sarcophagus of Abdalonymus (died 311 BC), the king of Sidon appointed by Alexander immediately following the 
battle of Issus in 331. However, more recently, it has been suggested that it may date from earlier than 

Abdalonymus' death. 

Division of the empire 

Further information: Diadochi 

Alexander's death was so sudden that 
when reports of his death reached 
Greece, they were not immediately 
believed. Alexander had no obvious 
or legitimate heir, his son Alexander 
IV by Roxane being born after 
Alexander's death. According to 

Diodorus, Alexander's companions 
asked him on his deathbed to whom he 
bequeathed his kingdom; his laconic 
reply was "toi kratistoi" — "to the 



Kingdoms of the Diadochi in 281 BC: the Ptolemaic Kingdom (dark blue), the Seleucid 
Empire (yellow), Kingdom of Pergamon (orange), and Macedonia (green). Also show are 
the Roman Republic (light blue), the Carthaginian Republic (purple), and the Kingdom of 

Eprius (red). 

Arrian and Plutarch claimed that 

Alexander was speechless by this 

point, implying that this was an apocryphal story. Diodorus, Curtius and Justin offered the more plausible story 

that Alexander passed his signet ring to Perdiccas, a bodyguard and leader of the companion cavalry, in front of 

witnesses, thereby nominating him 


Perdiccas initially did not claim power, instead suggesting that Roxane's baby would be king, if male; with himself, 
Craterus, Leonnatus, and Antipater as guardians. However, the infantry, under the command of Meleager, rejected 
this arrangement since they had been excluded from the discussion. Instead, they supported Alexander's half-brother 
Philip Arrhidaeus. Eventually, the two sides reconciled, and after the birth of Alexander IV, he and Philip III were 
appointed joint kings, albeit in name only 


Dissension and rivalry soon afflicted the Macedonians, however. The satrapies handed out by Perdiccas at the 
Partition of Babylon became power bases each general used to bid for power. After the assassination of Perdiccas in 
321 BC, Macedonian unity collapsed, and 40 years of war between "The Successors" (Diadochi) ensued before the 
Hellenistic world settled into four stable power blocks: the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, the Seleucid Empire in the 
east, the Kingdom of Pergamon in Asia Minor, and Macedon. In the process, both Alexander IV and Philip III were 


Diodorus stated that Alexander had given detailed written instructions to Craterus some time before his death. 
Craterus started to carry out Alexander's commands, but the successors chose not to further implement them, on the 
grounds they were impractical and extravagant. Nevertheless, Perdiccas read Alexander's will to his troops. 

The testament called for military expansion into the southern and western Mediterranean, monumental constructions, 
and the intermixing of Eastern and Western populations. It included: 

Construction of a monumental tomb for his father Philip, "to match the greatest of the pyramids of Egypt' 


Erection of great temples in Delos, Delphi, Dodona, Dium, Amphipolis, and a monumental temple to Athena at 

Troy [65] 

Conquest of Arabia and the entire Mediterranean Basin 

Alexander the Great 


• Circumnavigation of Africa 

• Development of cities and the "transplant of populations from Asia to Europe and in the opposite direction from 
Europe to Asia, in order to bring the largest continent to common unity and to friendship by means of 
intermarriage and family ties." 



Alexander earned the epithet "the Great" due to his unparalleled 
success as a military commander. He never lost a battle, despite 
typically being outnumbered. This was due to use of terrain, 
phalanx and cavalry tactics, bold strategy, and the fierce loyalty of his 
troops. The Macedonian phalanx, armed with the sarissa, a 

spear 6 metres (unknown operator: u'strong' ft) long, had been 
developed and perfected by Philip II through rigorous training, and 
Alexander used its speed and maneuverability to great effect against 
larger but more disparate Persian forces. Alexander also 

recognized the potential for disunity among his diverse army, which 
employed various languages and weapons. He overcame this by being 
personally involved in battle, in the manner of a Macedonian 
king. [157][158] 

In his first battle in Asia, at Granicus, Alexander used only a small part 
of his forces, perhaps 13,000 infantry with 5,000 cavalry, against a 
much larger Persian force of 40,000. Alexander placed the phalanx at 
the center and cavalry and archers on the wings, so that his line 
matched the length of the Persian cavalry line, about 3 km (unknown 
operator: u'strong' mi). By contrast, the Persian infantry was 
stationed behind its cavalry. This ensured that Alexander would not be 
outflanked, while his phalanx, armed with long pikes, had a 
considerable advantage over the Persian's scimitars and javelins. 
Macedonian losses were negligible compared to those of the Persians 


Crock Mcrconarina 


Persian Cavalry 

* I ! 1 V ;t 

■ [7] 001 

H ■□ni.,-J ■ 


nx Ilypaspiis j 


The Battle of the Granicus, 334 BC 

The Battle of Issus, 333 BC 

At Issus in 333 BC, his first confrontation with Darius, he used the same deployment, and again the central phalanx 
pushed through. Alexander personally led the charge in the center, routing the opposing army. At the 

decisive encounter with Darius at Gaugamela, Darius equipped his chariots with scythes on the wheels to break up 
the phalanx and equipped his cavalry with pikes. Alexander arranged a double phalanx, with the center advancing at 
an angle, parting when the chariots bore down and then reforming. The advance was successful and broke Darius' 
center, causing the latter to flee once again. 

When faced with opponents who used unfamiliar fighting techniques, such as in Central Asia and India, Alexander 
adapted his forces to his opponents' style. Thus, in Bactria and Sogdiana, Alexander successfully used his javelin 

throwers and archers to prevent outflanking movements, while massing his cavalry at the center 


In India, 

confronted by Poms' elephant corps, the Macedonians opened their ranks to envelop the elephants and used their 


sarissas to strike upwards and dislodge the elephants' handlers. 

Alexander the Great 

Physical appearance 

Greek biographer Plutarch (ca. 45—120 AD) describes Alexander's appearance 


The outward appearance of Alexander is best represented by the statues 
of him which Lysippus made, and it was by this artist alone that Alexander 


himself thought it fit that he should be modelled. For those peculiarities 
which many of his successors and friends afterwards tried to imitate, 
namely, the poise of the neck, which was bent slightly to the left, and the 


melting glance of his eyes, this artist has accurately observed. " Apelles, 
however, in painting him as wielder of the thunder-bolt, did not reproduce 
his complexion, but made it too dark and swarthy. Whereas he was of a 
fair colour, as they say, and his fairness passed into ruddiness on his breast 


particularly, and in his face. Moreover, that a very pleasant odour exhaled 
from his skin and that there was a fragrance about his mouth and all his 
flesh, so that his garments were filled with it, this we have read in the 

Memoirs of Aristoxenus 


Roman copy of a statue by Lysippos, 

Louvre Museum. Plutarch felt 

sculptures by Lysippos were the 

most faithful. 

Greek historian Arrian (Lucius Flavius Arrianus 'Xenophon' ca. 86 — 160) described Alexander as: 

[T]he strong, handsome commander with one eye dark as the night and one blue as the sky. 

The semi-legendary Alexander Romance also suggests that Alexander suffered from heterochromia iridum: that one 
eye was dark and the other light 


British historian Peter Green provided a description of Alexander's appearance, based on his review of statues and 
some ancient documents: 

Physically, Alexander was not prepossessing. Even by Macedonian standards he was very short, though stocky 
and tough. His beard was scanty, and he stood out against his hirsute Macedonian barons by going 
clean-shaven. His neck was in some way twisted, so that he appeared to be gazing upward at an angle. His 
eyes (one blue, one brown) revealed a dewy, feminine quality. He had a high complexion and a harsh 



Ancient authors recorded that Alexander was so pleased with portraits of himself created by Lysippos that he forbade 
other sculptors from crafting his image. Lysippos had often used the Contrapposto sculptural scheme to portray 
Alexander and other characters such as Apoxyomenos, Hermes and Eros. Lysippos' sculpture, famous for its 
naturalism, as opposed to a stiffer, more static pose, is thought to be the most faithful depiction. 


Alexander (left) fighting an Asiatic lion with his 

friend Craterus (detail). 3rd century BC mosaic, 

Pella Museum. 

Some of Alexander's strongest personality traits formed in response to 
his parents. His mother had huge ambitions, and encouraged him 
to believe it was his destiny to conquer the Persian Empire. 
Olympias' influence instilled a sense of destiny in him, and 

Plutarch tells us that his ambition "kept his spirit serious and lofty in 
advance of his years". However, his father Philip was Alexander's 
most immediate and influential role model, as the young Alexander 
watched him campaign practically every year, winning victory after 
victory while ignoring severe wounds. Alexander's relationship with 

Alexander the Great 97 

his father forged the competitive side of his personality; he had a need to out-do his father, illustrated by his reckless 
behavior in battle. While Alexander worried that his father would leave him "no great or brilliant achievement to 
be displayed to the world", he also downplayed his father's achievements to his companions. 

According to Plutarch, among Alexander's traits were a violent temper and rash, impulsive nature, which 

undoubtedly contributed to some of his decisions. Although Alexander was stubborn and did not respond well to 

r 1721 

orders from his father, he was open to reasoned debate. He had a calmer side — perceptive, logical, and 


calculating. He had a great desire for knowledge, a love for philosophy, and was an avid reader. This was no 
doubt in part due to Aristotle's tutelage; Alexander was intelligent and quick to learn. His intelligent and rational 
side was amply demonstrated by his ability and success as a general. He had great self-restraint in "pleasures of 
the body", in contrast with his lack of self control with alcohol. 

Alexander was erudite and patronized both arts and sciences. However, he had little interest in sports or the 

Olympic games (unlike his father), seeking only the Homeric ideals of honor (time) and glory (kudos). He 

had great charisma and force of personality, characteristics which made him a great leader. His unique 

abilities were further demonstrated by the inability of any of his generals to unite Macedonia and retain the Empire 
after his death — only Alexander had the ability to do so. 

During his final years, and especially after the death of Hephaestion, Alexander began to exhibit signs of 
megalomania and paranoia. His extraordinary achievements, coupled with his own ineffable sense of destiny and 
the flattery of his companions, may have combined to produce this effect. His delusions of grandeur are readily 
visible in his testament and in his desire to conquer the world. 

He appears to have believed himself a deity, or at least sought to deify himself. Olympias always insisted to him 

n if\\ n 771 

that he was the son of Zeus, a theory apparently confirmed to him by the oracle of Amun at Siwa. He began 


to identify himself as the son of Zeus-Ammon. Alexander adopted elements of Persian dress and customs at 

court, notably proskynesis, a practice that Macedonians disapproved, and were loath to perform. This behavior 

n 7ri 
cost him the sympathies of many of his countrymen. However, Alexander also was a pragmatic ruler who 

understood the difficulties of ruling culturally disparate peoples, many of whom lived in kingdoms where the king 

was divine. Thus, rather than megalomania, his behavior may simply have been a practical attempt at 

strengthening his rule and keeping his empire together. 

Alexander the Great 

Personal relationships 

The central personal relationship of Alexander's life was with his 
friend, general, and bodyguard Hephaestion, the son of a Macedonian 
noble. Hephaestion's death devastated Alexander. 

This event may have contributed to Alexander's failing health and 
detached mental state during his final months. 

Alexander married twice: Roxana, daughter of the Bactrian nobleman 

n R2i 
Oxyartes, out of love; and Stateira II, a Persian princess and 

n 83i 
daughter of Darius III of Persia, for political reasons. He 

apparently had two sons, Alexander IV of Macedon of Roxana and, 

possibly, Heracles of Macedon from his mistress Barsine. He lost 

another child when Roxana miscarried at Babylon 


— ^^1^— T> II I I" ■ ■ i 

A mural in Pompeii, depicting the marriage of 

Alexander to Barsine (Stateira) in 324 BC. The 

couple are apparently dressed as Ares and 


Alexander's sexuality has been the subject of speculation and 
controversy. No ancient sources stated that Alexander had 

homosexual relationships, or that Alexander's relationship with 
Hephaestion was sexual. Aelian, however, writes of Alexander's visit 
to Troy where "Alexander garlanded the tomb of Achilles and 

Hephaestion that of Patroclus, the latter riddling that he was a beloved 

n 87i 
of Alexander, in just the same way as Patroclus was of Achilles". 

Noting that the word eromenos (ancient Greek for beloved) does not necessarily bear sexual meaning, Alexander 

may have been bisexual, which in his time was not controversial 


Green argues that there is little evidence in ancient sources that Alexander had much carnal interest in women; he did 
not produce an heir until the very end of his life. However, he was relatively young when he died, and Ogden 
suggests that Alexander's matrimonial record is more impressive than his father's at the same age. Apart from 
wives, Alexander had many more female companions. Alexander accumulated a harem in the style of Persian kings, 
but he used it rather sparingly; showing great self-control in "pleasures of the body". Nevertheless, Plutarch 
described how Alexander was infatuated by Roxana while complimenting him on not forcing himself on her. 
Green suggested that, in the context of the period, Alexander formed quite strong friendships with women, including 
Ada of Caria, who adopted him, and even Darius's mother Sisygambis, who supposedly died from grief upon hearing 

of Alexander's death 


Alexander the Great 



Alexander's legacy extended beyond his 
military conquests. His campaigns greatly 
increased contacts and trade between East 
and West, and vast areas to the east were 
significantly exposed to Greek civilization 


and influence. Some of the cities he 
founded became major cultural centers, 
many surviving into the twenty-first century. 
His chroniclers recorded valuable 
information about the areas through which 
he marched, while the Greeks themselves 
got a sense of belonging to a world beyond 
the Mediterranean. 

Hellenistic kingdoms 

The Hellenistic world view after Alexander: ancient world map of Eratosthenes 

(276—194 BC), incorporating information from the campaigns of Alexander and 
.. [192] 

his successors. 

Alexander's most immediate legacy was the introduction of Macedonian rule to huge new swathes of Asia. At the 

2 T1931 

time of his death, Alexander's empire covered some 5200000 km (unknown operator: u'strong 1 sq mi), and 

was the largest state of its time. Many of these areas remained in Macedonian hands or under Greek influence for the 

next 200—300 years. The successor states that emerged were, at least initially, dominant forces, and these 300 years 

are often referred to as the Hellenistic period 


The eastern borders of Alexander's empire began to 
collapse even during his lifetime. However, the 

power vacuum he left in the northwest of the Indian 
subcontinent directly gave rise to one of the most 
powerful Indian dynasties in history. Taking advantage 
of this, Chandragupta Maurya (referred to in Greek 
sources as "Sandrokottos"), of relatively humble origin, 
took control of the Punjab, and with that power base 
proceeded to conquer the Nanda Empire. 

Plan of Alexandria, 

Scale 1:100 oofl 

[. folate Iwtor 
"J. Aitftrrfotdus 1. 

b.Aneienh \ T/ioiztk of Hit- 
e -J>er &ti j Site tututl 

7. ^efuveajfi- iuid> Poinpe-y'u 

Z.jjmple. 4t 'Eeptevte, 

■■■■■ ■ trtuznL sfwr& r 


Plan of Alexandria in antiquity 

Founding of cities 

Over the course of his conquests, Alexander founded 

some twenty cities that bore his name, most of them 

east of the Tigris. The first, and greatest, was Alexandria in Egypt, which would become one of the leading 

Mediterranean cities. The cities locations' reflected trade routes as well as defensive positions. At first the cities 

must have been inhospitable, little more than defensive garrisons. Following Alexander's death, many Greeks 

who had settled there tried to return to Greece. However, a century or so after Alexander's death, many of 

the Alexandrias were thriving, with elaborate public buildings and substantial populations that included both Greek 

and local peoples 


Alexander the Great 



Hellenization was coined by the German 

historian Johann Gustav Droysen to denote 

the spread of Greek language, culture, and 

population into the former Persian empire 

after Alexander's conquest. That this 

export took place is undoubted, and can be 

seen in the great Hellenistic cities of, for 

instance, Alexandria, Antioch and 

Seleucia (south of modern Baghdad). 

Alexander sought to insert Greek elements 

into Persian culture and attempted to 

hybridize Greek and Persian culture. This 

culminated in his aspiration to homogenize 

the populations of Asia and Europe. However, his successors explicitly rejected such policies. Nevertheless, 

Hellenization occurred throughout the region, accompanied by a distinct and opposite 'Orientalization' of the 

c . * [197][199] 

Successor states. 

The core of Hellenistic culture was essentially Athenian. The close association of men from across Greece in 

Alexander's army directly led to the emergence of the largely Attic-based "koine", or "common" Greek dialect. 
Koine spread throughout the Hellenistic world, becoming the lingua franca of Hellenistic lands and eventually the 
ancestor of modern Greek. Furthermore, town planning, education, local government, and art current in the 
Hellenistic period were all based on Classical Greek ideals, evolving into distinct new forms commonly grouped as 
Hellenistic. Aspects of Hellenistic culture were still evident in the traditions of the Byzantine Empire in the 
mid-15th century. 

Alexander's empire was the largest state of its time, covering approximately 5.2 
million square km. 

Alexander the Great 


Some of the most unusual effects of Hellenization can be seen in 
India, in the region of the relatively late-arising Indo-Greek 
kingdoms. There, isolated from Europe, Greek culture 

apparently hybridized with Indian, and especially Buddhist, 
influences. The first realistic portrayals of the Buddha appeared at 


this time; they were modeled on Greek statues of Apollo. 
Several Buddhist traditions may have been influenced by the 
ancient Greek religion: the concept of Boddhisatvas is reminiscent 
of Greek divine heroes, and some Mahayana ceremonial 

practices (burning incense, gifts of flowers, and food placed on 
altars) are similar to those practiced by the ancient Greeks. Zen 
Buddhism draws in part on the ideas of Greek stoics, such as 
Zeno. One Greek king, Menander I, probably became 

Buddhist, and was immortalized in Buddhist literature as 


'Milinda'. The process of Hellenization extended to the 

sciences, where ideas from Greek astronomy filtered eastward and 
had profoundly influenced Indian astronomy by the early centuries 


AD. For example, Greek astronomical instruments dating to 
the 3rd century BC were found in the Greco-Bactrian city of Ai 


Khanoum in modern-day Afghanistan while the Greek concept 
of a spherical earth surrounded by the spheres of planets was 
adopted in India and eventually supplanted the long-standing 

[2071 T2091 

Indian cosmological belief of a flat and circular earth. The 

Yavanajataka and Paulisa Siddhanta texts in particular show Greek 

The Buddha, in Greco-Buddhist style, 1st— 2nd century 

AD, Gandhara (Modern Pakistan). Tokyo National 


Influence on Rome 

Alexander and his exploits were admired by many Romans, especially generals, who wanted to associate themselves 
with his achievements. Polybius began his Histories by reminding Romans of Alexander's achievements, and 
thereafter Roman leaders saw him as a role model. Pompey the Great adopted the epithet "Magnus" and even 
Alexander's anatole-type haircut, and searched the conquered lands of the east for Alexander's 260-year-old cloak, 
which he then wore as a sign of greatness. Julius Caesar dedicated a Lysippean equestrian bronze statue but 
replaced Alexander's head with his own, while Octavian visited Alexander's tomb in Alexandria and temporarily 
changed his seal from a sphinx to Alexander's profile. The emperor Trajan also admired Alexander, as did Nero 
and Caracalla. The Macriani, a Roman family that in the person of Macrinus briefly ascended to the imperial 
throne, kept images of Alexander on their persons, either on jewelry, or embroidered into their clothes. 

Alexander the Great 


The Greco-Bactrian king Demetrius (reigned c. 
200—180 BC), wearing an elephant scalp, took 

over Alexander's legacy in the east by again 

invading India, and establishing the Indo-Greek 

kingdom (180 BC-10 AD). 

at the time. 


On the other hand, some Roman writers, particularly Republican 
figures, used Alexander as a cautionary tale of how autocratic 


tendencies can be kept in check by republican values. Alexander 
was used by these writers as an example of ruler values such as amicita 

(friendship) and dementia (clemency), but also iracundia (anger) and 

cupiditas gloriae (over-desire for glory). 


Legendary accounts surround the life of Alexander the Great, many 
deriving from his own lifetime, probably encouraged by Alexander 
himself. His court historian Callisthenes portrayed the sea in 

Cilicia as drawing back from him in proskynesis. Writing shortly after 
Alexander's death, another participant, Onesicritus, invented a tryst 
between Alexander and Thalestris, queen of the mythical Amazons. 
When Onesicritus read this passage to his patron, Alexander's general 
and later King Lysimachus reportedly quipped, "I wonder where I was 

In the first centuries after Alexander's death, probably in Alexandria, a quantity of the legendary material coalesced 
into a text known as the Alexander Romance, later falsely ascribed to Callisthenes and therefore known as 
Pseudo-Callisthenes. This text underwent numerous expansions and revisions throughout Antiquity and the Middle 
Ages, containing many dubious stories, and was translated into numerous languages. 

In ancient and modern culture 

Alexander the Great's accomplishments and legacy have been depicted l - ^ 
in many cultures. Alexander has figured in both high and popular 
culture beginning in his own era to the present day. The Alexander 
Romance, in particular, has had a significant impact on portrayals of 
Alexander in later cultures, from Persian to medieval European to 

modern Greek 


Alexander the Great depicted in a 14th century 
Byzantine manuscript 

Alexander features prominently in modern Greek folklore, more so 


than any other ancient figure. The colloquial form of his name in 
modern Greek ("O Megalexandros") is a household name, and he is the 


only ancient hero to appear in the Karagiozis shadow play. One 

well-known fable among Greek seamen involves a solitary mermaid 

who would grasp a ship's prow during a storm and ask the captain "Is King Alexander alive?". The correct answer is 

"He is alive and well and rules the world!", causing the mermaid to vanish and the sea to calm. Any other answer 

would cause the mermaid to turn into a raging Gorgon who would drag the ship to the bottom of the sea, all hands 



In pre-Islamic Persian (Zoroastrian) literature, Alexander is referred to by the epithet "gojastak", meaning 

T21 81 

"accursed", and is accused of destroying temples and burning the sacred texts of Zoroastrianism. 

Alexander the Great 


In Islamic Iran, under the influence of the Alexander Romance, a more positive 

portrayal of Alexander emerges. Firdausi's Shahnameh ("The Book of 

Kings") includes Alexander in a line of legitimate Iranian shahs, a mythical 

figure who explored the far reaches of the world in search of the fountain of 


youth. Later Persian writers associate him with philosophy, portraying him 
at a symposium with figures such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, in search of 

The Syriac version of the Alexander Romance portrays him as an ideal Christian 

world conqueror who prayed to "the one true God". In Egypt, Alexander was 

portrayed as the son of Nectanebo II, the last pharaoh before the Persian 

conquest. His defeat of Darius was depicted as Egypt's salvation, "proving" 

Egypt was still ruled by an Egyptian 


The figure of Dhul-Qarnayn (literally "the Two-Horned One") mentioned in the 

Quran is believed by some scholars to represent Alexander, due to parallels with 

the Alexander Romance. In this tradition, he was a heroic figure who built a 

wall to defend against the nations of Gog and Magog. He then traveled the 

known world in search for the Water of Life and Immortality, eventually 

becoming a prophet 


15th century Persian miniature 

painting from Herat depicting 

Alexander the Great 

In India and Pakistan, more specifically the Punjab, the name "Sikandar", derived from Persian, denotes a rising 

young talent 


In medieval Europe he was made a member of the Nine Worthies, a group of heroes who 

encapsulated all the ideal qualities of chivalry. 


Apart from a few inscriptions and fragments, texts written by people who actually knew Alexander or who gathered 


information from men who served with Alexander were all lost. Contemporaries who wrote accounts of his life 
included Alexander's campaign historian Callisthenes; Alexander's generals Ptolemy and Nearchus; Aristobulus, a 
junior officer on the campaigns; and Onesicritus, Alexander's chief helmsman. Their works are lost, but later works 
based on these original sources have survived. The earliest of these is Diodorus Siculus (1st century BC), followed 
by Quintus Curtius Rufus (mid to late 1st century AD), Arrian (1st to 2nd century AD), the biographer Plutarch (1st 


to 2nd century AD), and finally Justin, whose work dated as late as the 4th century AD. Of these, Arrian is 
generally considered the most reliable, given that he used Ptolemy and Aristobulus as his sources, closely followed 

by Diodorus 



A i: By the time of his death, he had conquered the entire Achaemenid Persian Empire, adding it to Macedon's 
European territories; according to some modern writers, this was most of the world then known to the ancient Greeks 

[223] [2241 

(the Ecumene'). An approximate view of the world known to Alexander can be seen in Hecataeus of 

Miletus's map; see Hecataeus world map. 


A ii: For instance, Hannibal supposedly ranked Alexander as the greatest general; Julius Caesar wept on seeing a 
statue of Alexander, since he had achieved so little by the same age; Pompey consciously posed as the 'new 

T2271 r2281 

Alexander'; the young Napoleon Bonaparte also encouraged comparisons with Alexander. 



A iii: The name AXe^avdoog derives from the Greek verb "aXE§co" (alexo), "to ward off, to avert, to defend 

, , , , _ T2301 T2311 

the noun "avSpoq" (andros), genitive of "avnp" (aner), "man" and means "protector of men." 

A iv: "In the early 5th century the royal house of Macedon, the Temenidae, was recognised as Greek by the 

Alexander the Great 


Presidents of the Olympic Games. Their verdict was and is decisive. It is certain that the Kings considered 
themselves to be of Greek descent from Heracles son of Zeus.' 

A v: " AEACIDS Descendants of Aeacus, son of Zeus and the nymph Aegina, eponymous (see the term) to the island 
of that name. His son was Peleus, father of Achilles, whose descendants (real or supposed) called themselves 


Aeacids: thus Pyrrhus and Alexander the Great." 

A vi: There have been, since the time, many suspicions that Pausanias was actually hired to murder Philip. Suspicion 

has fallen upon Alexander, Olympias and even the newly crowned Persian Emperor, Darius III. All three of these 

people had motive to have Philip murdered. 


[1] "Alexander the Great (356 - 323 BC)" ( . 

[2] Yenne 2010, p. 159 

[3] Yenne 2010, p. viii 

[4] "The birth of Alexander the Great" (http://www.livius.Org/aj-al/alexander/alexander_t32.html#7). . Retrieved 16 December 
201 1. "Alexander was born the sixth of Hekatombaion." 

[5] Peter Green (1970), Alexander ofMacedon, 356-323 B.C.: a historical biography (http://books. ?id=g6W14AKGQkIC& 

ved=0CF8Q6AEwCDgK#v=onepage&q=356&f=false), Hellenistic culture and society (reprinted, illustrated, revised ed.), University of 
California Press, p. xxxiii, ISBN 978-0-520-07165-0, , "356 - Alexander born in Pella. The exact date is not known, but probably either 20 or 
26 July." 

[6] McCarty 2004, p. 10 

[7] Renault 2001, p. 28 

[8] Durant 1966, p. 538 

[9] Roisman & Worthington 2010, p. 171 


























Roisman & Worthington 2010, p. 188 

Plutarch 1919, III, 2 View page (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 01. 0243:chapter=3:section=2) 

Bose2003, p. 21 

Renault 2001, pp. 33-34 

Roisman & Worthington 2010, p. 186 

Plutarch 1919, VI, 5 View page (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999. 01. 0243:chapter=6:section=5) 

Fox 1980, p. 64 

Renault 2001, p. 39 

Fox 1980, p. 65 

Renault 2001, p. 44 

McCarty 2004, p. 15 

Renault 2001, pp. 45^7 

McCarty 2004, p. 16 

Fox 1980, p. 68 

Renault 2001, p. 47 

Bose 2003, p. 43 

Renault 2001, pp. 47^9 

Renault 2001, pp. 50-51 

Bose 2003, pp. 44^5 

McCarty 2004, p. 23 

Renault 2001, p. 51 

Bose 2003, p. 47 

McCarty 2004, p. 24 

Diodorus Siculus 1989, XVI, 86 View page (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=Diod. +16. 86) 

"History of Ancient Sparta" ( Archived ( 
20091210135050/http://www. from the original on 10 December 2009. . Retrieved 14 November 
[35] Renault 2001, p. 54 
[36] McCarty 2004, p. 26 
[37] Roisman & Worthington 2010, p. 179 
[38] McCarty 2004, p. 27 
[39] Plutarch 1919, IX, 1 View page (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999. 01. 0243:chapter=9) 

Alexander the Great 



Roisman & Worthington 2010, p. 180 

Plutarch 1919, LXXV, 1 View page (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999. 01. 0243:chapter=75) 

Renault 2001, p. 56 

Renault 2001, p. 59 

Fox 1980, p. 71 

McCarty 2004, pp. 30-3 1 

Renault 2001, pp. 61-62 

Fox 1980, p. 72 

Roisman & Worthington 2010, p. 190 

Green 2007, pp. 5-6 

Renault 2001, pp. 70-71 

McCarty 2004, p. 31 

Renault 2001, p. 72 

Fox 1980, p. 104 

Bose 2003, p. 95 

Stoneman 2004, p. 21 

Dillon 2004, p. 187-188 

Bose 2003, p. 96 

Arrian 1976, 1, 1 View page ( 

Arrian 1976, 1, 2 

Arrian 1976, 1, 3-4 

Renault 2001, pp. 73-74 

Arrian 1976, 1, 5-6 

Renault 2001, p. 77 

Roisman & Worthington 2010, p. 192 

Roisman & Worthington 2010, p. 199 

Arrian 1976, 1, 11 

Arrian 1976, 1, 13-19 

Arrian 1976, 1, 20-23 

Arrian 1976, 1, 23 

Arrian 1976, 1, 27-28 

Arrian 1976, 1, 3 

Green 2007, p. 351 

Arrian 1976, 1, 6-10 

Arrian 1976, 1, 11-12 

Arrian 1976, 1, 3-4 II, 14 

Arrian 1976, II, 16-24 

Gunther 2007, p. 84 

Sabin, van Wees & Whitby 2007, p. 396 

Arrian 1976, II, 26 

Arrian 1976, II, 26-27 

Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, XI, 337 [viii, 5] 

Ring et al. 1994, pp. 49, 320 

Grimal 1992, p. 382 

Dahmen 2007, pp. 10-11 

Arrian 1976, III, 1 

Arrian 1976, III 7-15 

Arrian 1976, 111,16 View page ( 

Arrian 1976, III, 18 

Foreman 2004, p. 152 

Morkot 1996, p. 121 

Hammond 1983, pp. 72-73 

Arrian 1976, III, 19-20 

Arrian 1976, III, 21 

Arrian 1976, III, 21, 25 

Arrian 1976, III, 22 

Gergel2004, p. 81 

"The end of Persia" ( . Retrieved 16 November 2009. 

Arrian 1976, III, 23-25, 27-30; IV, 1-7 

Alexander the Great 106 

[99] Arrian 1976, III, 30 

[100] Arrian 1976, IV, 5-6, 16-17 

[101] Arrian 1976, VII, 11 View page ( 

[102] Morkot 1996, p. Ill 

[103] Gergel 2004, p. 99 

[104] Heckel & Tritle 2009, pp. 47-48 

[105] Roisman & Worthington 2010, p. 201 

[106] Roisman & Worthington 2010, p. 202 

[107] Roisman & Worthington 2010, p. 203 

[108] Roisman & Worthington 2010, p. 205 

[109] Tripathi 1999, pp. 118-121 

[110] Narain 1965, pp. 155-165 

[111] McCrindle 1997, p. 229 

[112] Tripathi 1999, pp. 124-125 

[113] Tripathi 1999, pp. 126-127 

[114] Gergel 2004, p. 120 

[115] Worthington 2003, p. 175 

[116] Tripathi 1999, pp. 129-130 

[117] Plutarch 1919, LXII, 1 View page (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999. 01. 0243:chapter=62& 

[118] Tripathi 1999, pp. 137-138 View page ( 
[119] Tripathi 1999, p. 141 
[120] Morkot 1996, p. 9 

[121] Arrian 1976, VI, 27 View page ( 
[122] Arrian 1976, VII, 4 View page ( 
[123] Worthington 2003, pp. 307-308 
[124] Roisman & Worthington 2010, p. 194 

[125] Arrian 1976, II, 29 View page ( 
[126] Arrian 1976, VII, 14 View page ( 
[127] Berkley 2006, p. 101 

[128] Arrian 1976, VII, 19 View page ( 

[129] Depuydt, L.. "The Time of Death of Alexander the Great: 1 1 June 323 BC, ca. 4:00-5:00 pm". Die Welt des Orients 28: 1 17-135. 
[130] Wood 2001, pp. 2267ndash;227 

[131] Diodorus Siculus 1989, XVII, 117 View page (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=Diod. +17. 117.1) 
[132] Green 2007, pp. 1-2 
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[134] Arrian 1976, VII, 27 View page ( 
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[157] Roisman & Worthington 2010, p. 193 
[158] Morkot 1996, p. 110 
[159] Morkot 1996, p. 122 

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[169] Plutarch 1919, Iv, 4 View page (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 01. 0243:chapter=4:section=4) 
[170] Plutarch 1919, V, 2 View page (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999. 01. 0243:chapter=5:section=2) 
[171] Arrian 1976, VII, 29 View page ( 

[172] Plutarch 1919, VII, 1 View page (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999. 01. 0243:chapter=7:section=l) 
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[174] Arrian 1976, VII, 28 
[175] Green 2007, pp. 20-21 

[176] Plutarch 1919, IX, IV View page (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 01. 0243:chapter=9:section=4) 
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[179] Roisman & Worthington 2010, p. 195 

[180] Diodorus Siculus 1989, XVII, 114 View page (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=Diod. +17. 114.1) 
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[186] Ogden 2009, p. 204 

[187] Aelian, Varia Historia XII, 7 (http://penelope.uchicago.edU/aelian/varhistl2.xhtml#chap7) 
[188] Sacks 1995, p. 16 
[189] Ogden 2009, p. 208 "... three attested pregnancies in eight years produces an attested impregnation rate of one every 2.7 years, which is 

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[195] Keay 2001, pp. 82-85 

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[200] McCarty 2004, p. 17 

[201] Harrison 1971, p. 51 

[202] Gabriel 2002, p. 277 

[203] Baynes 2007, p. 170 

[204] Keay 2001, pp. 101-109 

[205] Luniyal978, p. 312 

[206] Pratt 1996, p. 237 

[207] Pingree 1978, pp. 533, 554f 

[208] Cambon & Jarrige 2006, p. 269 

[209] Glick, Livesey & Wallis 2005, p. 463 

[210] Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 6, p. 114 

[211] Holt 2003, p. 3 

[212] Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 6, p. 1 15 

[213] Roisman & Worthington 2010, p. 187 

[214] Plutarch 1919, LXVI, 1 View page (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 01. 0243:chapter=46& 


[215] Stoneman 1996, passim 

[216] Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 6,117 

[217] Fermor2006, p. 215 

[218] Curtis, Tallis & Andre-Salvini 2005, p. 154 

[219] Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 6, 120 

[220] Fischer 2004, p. 66 

[221] Roisman & Worthington 2010, Chapter 6, 122 

[222] Connerney 2009, p. 68 

[223] Danforth 1997, pp. 38, 49, 167 

[224] Stoneman 2004, p. 2 

[225] Goldsworthy 2003, pp. 327-328 

[226] Plutarch 1919, XI, 2 View page (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999. 01. 0244:chapter=ll& 


[227] Holland 2003, pp. 176-183 

[228] Barnett 1997, p. 45 

[229] Plutarch 1919, IV, 57 akefyo ( Liddell & 

Scott 1940 

[230] Plutarch 1919, IV, 57 avip (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999. 04. 0057:entry=a)nh/r) Liddell & Scott 


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[232] Hammond 1986, p. 516 

[233] Chamoux & Roussel 2003, p. 396 

[234] Fox 1980, pp. 72-73 

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Harrison, E.F. (1971). The language of the New Testament (http://books. google. com/?id=qh7b4o6JQpIC& 
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of olynthus conspiracy). Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 47-48. ISBN 978-1-4051-3082-0. 

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google. com/?id=5wDWnldL6HMC&pg=PA226&dq=alexander+the+great+++fever#v=onepage& 
q=alexander the great +fever&f=false). University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-23192-4. 

• Worthington, Ian (2003). Alexander the Great: A Reader (http://books. google. com/?id=OiM51I7_AlgC& 
pg=PA175&dq=Alexander+Nicaea+Punjab#v=onepage&q=Alexander Nicaea Punjab&f=false). Routledge. 
pp. 332. ISBN 0-415-29187-9. 

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ISBN 978-0-230-61915-9. 

Further reading 

• Badian, Ernst (1958). "Alexander the Great and the Unity of Mankind". Historia 7: 425-444. 

• Beazley, JD; Ashmole, B. (1932). Greek Sculpture and Painting. Cambridge University Press. 

• Bowra, Maurice (1994). The Greek Experience. Phoenix Books. ISBN 1-85799-122-2. 

• Burn, A.R. (1951). Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Empire (2 ed.). London: English Universities Press. 

• Curtius. "Curtius Rufus, History of Alexander the Great" (http://penelope.uchicago.edU/Thayer/E/Roman/ 
Texts/Curtius/home.html). Retrieved 16 November 2009. (Latin) 

• Encyclopaedia Britannica (1910). Encyclopaedia Britannica ( 
books?id=6_ctAAAAIAAJ&q=Nicaea+Mong&dq=Nicaea+Mong). 14. Books. google. ca. Retrieved 29 January 

• Engels, Donald W. (1978). Alexander the Great and the Logistics of the Macedonian Army. Berkeley: University 
of California Press. 

Alexander the Great 112 

Fawcett, Bill, ed. (2006). How To Lose A Battle: Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders. Harper. 

ISBN 0-06-076024-9. 

Fuller, J.F.C. (1958). The Generalship of Alexander the Great ( 

books?id=q3M0NE2RJgYC&printsec=frontcover). London: Eyre and Spottiswoode. 

Green, Peter (1992). Alexander of Macedon: 356—323 B.C. A Historical Biography. University of California 

Press. ISBN 0-520-07166-2. 

Greene, Robert (2000). The 48 Laws of Power. Penguin Books, p. 351. ISBN 0-14-028019-7. 

Hammond, N.G.L. (1994). Alexander the Great: King, Commander, and Statesman (3 ed.). London: Bristol 

Classical Press. 

Hammond, N.G.L. (1997). The Genius of Alexander the Great. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. 

Hammond, N.G.L. (1989). The Macedonian State: Origins, Institutions, and History. Oxford University Press. 

ISBN 0-19-814883-6. 

Justin (1853). "Justin: Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Tragus" ( 

literature/justin/english/index.html). Retrieved 14 November 2009. Rev. John Selby 

Watson, translator(English) 

McCrindle, J.W. (1893). The Invasion of India by Alexander the Great as Described by Arrian, Q Curtius, 

Diodorus, Plutarch, and Justin (http://books. google. com/books ?id=A9YNAAAAIAAJ). Westminster: 

Archibald Constable and Co. 

Murphy, James Jerome; Richard A. Katula, Forbes I. Hill, Donovan J. Ochs (2003). A Synoptic History of 

Classical Rhetoric. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, p. 17. ISBN 1-880393-35-2. 

Nandan, Y.; Bhavan, BV (2003). British Death March Under Asiatic Impulse: Epic of Anglo-Indian Tragedy in 

Afghanistan. Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. ISBN 81-7276-301-8. 

O'Brien, John Maxwell (1992). Alexander the Great: The Invisible Enemy. London: Routledge. 

Pomeroy, S.; Burstein, S.; Dolan, W.; Roberts, J. (1998). Ancient Greece: A Political, Social, and Cultural 

History. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509742-4. 

Roisman, Joseph, ed. (1995). Alexander the Great Ancient and Modern Perspectives. Problems in European 

Civilization. Lexington, MA.: D.C. Heath. 

Savill, Agnes (1959). Alexander the Great and His Time (3 ed.). London: Barrie and Rockliff. 

Singh, Kirpal (2005). Kambojas Through the Ages. p. 134. 

Stewart, Andrew (1993). Faces of Power: Alexander's Image and Hellenistic Politics. Hellenistic Culture and 

Society. 11. Berkeley: University of California Press. 

Stoneman, Richard (2008). Alexander the Great: A Life in Legend. Yale University Press. 

ISBN 978-0-300-11203-0. 

Tarn, W.W. (1948). Alexander the Great. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Wilcken, Ulrich (1997) [1932]. Alexander the Great. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. 

ISBN 0-393-00381-7. 

Worthington, Ian (2004). Alexander the Great: Man And God. Pearson. ISBN 978-1-4058-0162-1. 

Alexander the Great 113 

External links 

• Alexander the Great ( 
Alexander_the_Great//) at the Open Directory Project 

• Alexander the Great: An annotated list of primary sources ( 
alexander_zlb.html) from 

• The Elusive Tomb of Alexander the Great: ( 

• Two Great Historians On Alexander the Great (conversations between historians James Romm and Paul 
Cartledge), on Forbes: Part 1 ( 

two-great-historians-on-alexander-the-great-part-one/), Part 2 ( 
two-great-historians-on-alexander-the-great-part-two/), Part 3 ( 
two-historians-talk-alexander-the-great-part-3/), Part 4 ( 1/01/03/ 
two-great-historians-talk-alexander-the-great-part-4/), Part 5 ( 1/01/10/ 
how-great-a-general-was-alexander/?boxes=financechannelforbes), Part 6 ( 




The Amazons (Greek: A|iai;6vE<;, Amazones, singular A|ia^(i)v, 
Amazon) are a nation of all-female warriors in Greek mythology and 
Classical antiquity. Herodotus placed them in a region bordering 
Scythia in Sarmatia (modern territory of Ukraine). Other 
historiographers place them in Asia Minor, or Libya. 

Notable queens of the Amazons are Penthesilea, who participated in 
the Trojan War, and her sister Hippolyta, whose magical girdle, given 
to her by her father Ares, was the object of one of the labours of 
Hercules. Amazonian raiders were often depicted in battle with Greek 
warriors in amazonomachies in classical art. 

The Amazons have become associated with various historical peoples 
throughout the Roman Empire period and Late Antiquity. In Roman 
historiography, there are various accounts of Amazon raids in Asia 
Minor. From the Early Modern period, their name has become a term 
for female warriors in general. 


Amazon preparing for a battle (Queen Antiop or 
Armed Venus), by Pierre-Eugene-Emile Hebert 
1860 (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.) 

The origin of the word is uncertain. It may be derived from an Iranian 
ethnonym *ha-mazan-, "warriors", a word attested as a denominal verb (formed with the Indo-Iranian root kar- 
"make" also in kar-ma) in Hesychius of Alexandria's gloss &|iai;aKapav- jtoXeiielv. nepaca (" hamazakaran: 'to 
make war' (Persian)"). Alternatively, a Greek derivation from *n-mn-gw-jon-es "manless, without husbands" (a- 
privative and a derivation of *man- also found in Slavic muzh) has been proposed, an explanation deemed "unlikely" 
by Hjalmar Frisk. 19th century scholarship also connected the term to the ethnonym Amazigh. A further 
explanation proposes Iranian *ama-janah "virility-killing" as source 


Among Classical Greeks, amazon was given a popular etymology as from a-mazos, "without breast", connected with 
an etiological tradition that Amazons had their left breast cut off or burnt out, so they would be able to use a bow 
more freely and throw spears without the physical limitation and obstruction; there is no indication of such a 
practice in works of art, in which the Amazons are always represented with both breasts, although the left is 
frequently covered (see photos in article). 




Illustration depicting defeated Greeks being cruelly executed by Amazons. 

Amazon wearing trousers and 

carrying a shield with an attached 

patterned cloth and a quiver. Ancient 

Greek Attic white-ground alabastron, 

ca. 470 BC, British Museum, London 

Amazons were said to have lived in Pontus, 
which is part of modern day Turkey near the 
shore of the Euxine Sea (the Black Sea). 
There they formed an independent kingdom 
under the government of a queen named 
Hippolyta or Hippolyte ("loose, unbridled 


mare"). The Amazons were supposed to 
have founded many towns, amongst them 
Smyrna, Ephesus, Sinope, and Paphos. 
According to the dramatist Aeschylus, in the 
distant past they had lived in Scythia 
(modern Crimea), at the Palus Maeotis 
("Lake Maeotis", the Sea of Azov), but later 
moved to Themiscyra on the River 
Thermodon (the Terme river in northern 
Turkey). Herodotus called them 
Androktones ("killers of men"), and he 
stated that in the Scythian language they 
were called Oiorpata, which he asserted had 
this meaning. 

The myth 

In some versions of the myth, no men were 
permitted to have sexual encounters or 
reside in Amazon country; but once a year, 
in order to prevent their race from dying out, 
they visited the Gargareans, a neighbouring 
tribe. The male children who were the result 
of these visits were either killed, sent back 
to their fathers or exposed in the wilderness 
to fend for themselves; the girls were kept 
and brought up by their mothers, and trained 
in agricultural pursuits, hunting, and the art 
of war. In other versions when the Amazons 
went to war they would not kill all the men. 
Some they would take as slaves, and once or 
twice a year they would have sex with their 

The intermarriage of Amazons and men from other tribes was also used to explain the origin of various peoples. For 
example, the story of the Amazons settling with the Scythians (Herodotus Histories 4.1 10.1-1 17.1). 

In the Iliad, the Amazons were referred to as Antianeirai ("those who fight like men"). 

The Amazons appear in Greek art of the Archaic period and in connection with several Greek legends. They invaded 
Lycia, but were defeated by Bellerophon, who was sent against them by Iobates, the king of that country, in the hope 



that he might meet his death at their hands. The tomb of Myrine is mentioned in the Iliad; later interpretation 

made of her an Amazon: according to Diodorus, Queen Myrine led her Amazons to victory against Libya and 
much of Gorgon. 


They attacked the Phrygians, who were assisted by Priam, then a young man. Although in his later years, towards 
the end of the Trojan War, his old opponents took his side again against the Greeks under their queen Penthesilea "of 
Thracian birth", who was slain by Achilles. 

One of the tasks imposed upon Heracles by Eurystheus was to obtain possession of the girdle of the Amazonian 

queen Hippolyta 


He was accompanied by his friend Theseus, who carried off the princess Antiope, 

roc"! ["O A~| 

sister of Hippolyta, an incident which led to a retaliatory invasion of Attica, in which Antiope perished 

fighting by the side of Theseus. In some versions, however, Theseus marries Hippolyta and in others, he marries 
Antiope and she does not die; by this marriage with the Amazon Theseus had a son Hippolytus. The battle between 
the Athenians and Amazons is often commemorated in an entire genre of art, amazonomachy, in marble bas-reliefs 
such as from the Parthenon or the sculptures of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. 

The Amazons are also said to have undertaken an expedition against 
the island of Leuke, at the mouth of the Danube, where the ashes of 
Achilles had been deposited by Thetis. The ghost of the dead hero 
appeared and so terrified the horses, that they threw and trampled upon 
the invaders, who were forced to retire. Pompey is said to have found 
them in the army of Mithridates. 

Thalestris, Queen of the Amazons, visits 
Alexander (1696) 

They are heard of in the time of Alexander, when some of the king's 
biographers make mention of Amazon Queen Thalestris visiting him 
and becoming a mother by him (the story is known from the Alexander 
Romance). However, several other biographers of Alexander dispute 
the claim, including the highly regarded secondary source, Plutarch. In 
his writing he makes mention of a moment when Alexander's 
secondary naval commander, Onesicritus, was reading the Amazon passage of his Alexander history to King 
Lysimachus of Thrace who was on the original expedition: the king smiled at him and said "And where was I, then?" 

The Roman writer Virgil's characterization of the Volscian warrior maiden Camilla in the Aeneid borrows heavily 
from the myth of the Amazons. 

Jordanes' Getica (c. 560), purporting to give the earliest history of the Goths, relates that the Goths' ancestors, 
descendants of Magog, originally dwelt within Scythia, on the Sea of Azov between the Dnieper and Don Rivers. 
After a few centuries, following an incident where the Goths' women successfully fended off a raid by a neighboring 
tribe, while the menfolk were off campaigning against Pharaoh Vesosis, the women formed their own army under 
Marpesia and crossed the Don, invading Asia. Her sister Lampedo remained in Europe to guard the homeland. They 
procreated with men once a year. These Amazons conquered Armenia, Syria, and all of Asia Minor, even reaching 
Ionia and Aeolia, holding this vast territory for 100 years. Jordanes also mentions that they fought with Hercules, and 
in the Trojan War, and that a smaller contingent of them endured in the Caucasus Mountains until the time of 
Alexander. He mentions by name the Queens Menalippe, Hippolyta, and Penthesilea. 

Amazons 117 


There are several (conflicting) lists of names of Amazons. 

Quintus Smyrnaeus lists the attendant warriors of Penthesilea: "Clonie was there, Polemusa, Derinoe, Evandre, 
and Antandre, and Bremusa, Hippothoe, dark-eyed Harmothoe, Alcibie, Derimacheia, Antibrote, and Thermodosa 
glorying with the spear." 


Diodorus Siculus enlists nine Amazons who challenged Heracles to single combat during his quest for 
Hippolyta's girdle and died against him one by one: Aella, Philippis, Prothoe, Eriboea, Celaeno, Eurybia, Phoebe, 
Deianeira, Asteria, Marpe, Tecmessa, Alcippe. After Alcippe's death, a group attack followed. 

Another list of Amazons' names is found in Hyginus' Fabulae. Along with Hippolyta, Otrera, Antiope and 
Penthesilea, it attests the following names: Ocyale, Dioxippe, Iphinome, Xanthe, Hippothoe, Laomache, Glauce, 
Agave, Theseis, Clymene, Polydora. 

Yet another different set of names is found in Valerius Flaccus' Argonautica: he mentions Euryale, Harpe, Lyce, 

Menippe and Thoe. Of these Lyce also appears in a fragment preserved in the Latin Anthology where she is said to 

have killed the hero Clonus of Moesia, son of Doryclus, with her javelin. 

John Tzetzes in Posthomerica enumerates the Amazons that fell at Troy: Hippothoe, Antianeira, Toxophone, 

Toxoanassa, Gortyessa, Iodoce, Pharetre, Andro, Ioxeia, Oi'strophe, Androdai'xa, Aspidocharme, Enchesimargos, 

Cnemis, Thorece, Chalcaor, Eurylophe, Hecate, Anchimache, Andromache the queen. Concerning Antianeira and 

Andromache, see below; for almost all the other names on the list, this is a unique attestation. 

Stephanus of Byzantium provides an alternate list of the Amazons that fell against Heracles, describing them as "the 


most prominent" of their people: Tralla, Isocrateia, Thiba, Palla, Coea (Koia), Coenia (Koinia). Eustathius gives 

the same list minus the last two names. Both Stephanus and Eustathius write of these Amazons in connection with 

the placename Thibais, which they report to have been derived from Thiba's name. 
Other names of Amazons from various sources include: 


Aegea, queen of the Amazons who was thought by some to have been the eponym of the Aegean Sea. 
Ainia, presumably accompanied Penthesilea to the Trojan War, killed by Achilles; known only from an Attic 

terracotta relief fragment. 

Ainippe, an Amazon who confronted Telamon in the battle against Heracles' troops 

Alee, who was said to have killed the young Oebalus of Arcadia, son of Ida (otherwise unknown), with her spear 

during the Parthian War. 


Amastris, who was believed to be the eponym of the city previously known as Kromna, although the city was 

also thought to have been named after the historical Amastris 

Anaea, an Amazon whose tomb was shown at the island of Samos 

Andromache, an Amazon who fought Heracles and was defeated; only known from vase paintings. Not to 

be confused with Andromache, wife of Hector. 

Antianeira, succeeded Penthesilea as Queen of the Amazons. She was best known for ordering her male servants 

to be crippled "as the lame best perform the acts of love". 

Areto and Iphito, two little-known Amazons, whose names are only attested in inscriptions on artefacts. 

Clete, one of the twelve followers of Penthesilea. After Penthesilea's death she, in accord with the former's will, 

sailed off and eventually landed in Italy, founding the city of Clete. 

Cyme, who gave her name to the city of Cyme (Aeolis) 

Cynna (?), one of the two possible eponyms (the other one being "Cynnus, brother of Coeus") of Cynna, a small 

town not far from Heraclea. 

Ephesos, a Lydian Amazon, after whom the city of Ephesus was thought to have been named; she was also said to 

have been the first to honor Artemis and to have surnamed the goddess Ephesia. Her daughter Amazo was 

thought of as the eponym of the Amazons. 

Amazons 118 

• Eurypyle, queen of the Amazons who was reported to have led an expedition against Ninus and Babylon around 

1760BC [50][51][52] 

• Gryne, an Amazon who was thought to be the eponym of the Gryneian grove in Asia Minor. She was loved by 
Apollo and consorted with him in said grove. 

• Helene, daughter of Tityrus. She fought Achilles and died after he seriously wounded her. 

• Hippo, an Amazon who took part in the introduction of religious rites in honor of the goddess Artemis. She was 
punished by the goddess for not having performed a ritual dance. 

• Lampedo, queen of the Amazons, co-ruler with Marpesia 


• Latoreia, who had a small village near Ephesus named after her. 

• Lysippe, mother of Tanais by Berossos. Her son only venerated Ares and was fully devoted to war, neglecting 
love and marriage. Aphrodite cursed him with falling in love with his own mother. Preferring to die rather than 
give up his chastity, he threw himself into the river Amazonius, which was subsequently renamed Tanais. 

• Marpesia, queen of the Amazons, co-ruler with Lampedo 

Melanippe, sister of Hippolyta. Heracles captured her and demanded Hippolyta's girdle in exchange for her 



, an Amazon who killed Antiope. 


freedom. Hippolyta complied and Heracles let her go. According to some, however, she was killed by 

Molpadia, an Amazon who killed Antiope. 

Myrleia, possible eponym of a city in Bithynia, which was later known as Apamea. 

Myrto, in one source, mother of Myrtilus by Hermes (elsewhere his mother is called Theobule). 

Mytilene, Myrina's sister and one of the possible eponyms for the city of Mytilene 

Orithyia, daughter and successor of Marpesia, famous for her conquests 

Otrera, consort of Ares and mother of Hippolyta and Penthesilea. 

Pantariste, who killed Timiades in the battle between the Amazons and Heracles' troops. 

Pitane and Priene, two commanders in Myrina's army, after whom the cities of Pitane (Aeolis) and Priene were 


• Sanape, who fled to Pontus and married a local king. She habitually drank a lot of wine and was said to have 
received her name from that circumstance, as "Sanape" was purported to mean "drunkard" in the local 

i [66] 



• Sinope, successor of Lampedo and Marpesia. 

• Sisyrbe, after whom apart of Ephesus was called Sisyrba, and its inhabitants the Sisyrbitae. 

• Smyrna, who obtained possession of Ephesus and gave her name to a quarter in this city, as well as to the city of 
Smyrna [69][70][71] 

[72] [73] 

• Themiscyra, the eponym of the Amazon capital 

Hero cults 

According to ancient sources, (Plutarch Theseus, Pausanias), Amazon tombs could be found frequently 

throughout what was once known as the ancient Greek world. Some are found in Megara, Athens, Chaeronea, 

Chalcis, Thessaly at Skotousa, in Cynoscephalae and statues of Amazons are all over Greece. At both Chalcis and 

Athens Plutarch tells us that there was an Amazoneum or shrine of Amazons that implied the presence of both tombs 

and cult. On the day before the Thesea at Athens there were annual sacrifices to the Amazons. In historical times 

Greek maidens of Ephesus performed an annual circular dance with weapons and shields that had been established 

by Hippolyta and her Amazons. They had initially set up wooden statues of Artemis, a bretas, (Pausanias, (fl.c.160): 

Description of Greece, Book I: Attica). 



In art 

In works of art, battles between Amazons and Greeks 
are placed on the same level as and often associated 
with battles of Greeks and centaurs. The belief in their 
existence, however, having been once accepted and 
introduced into the national poetry and art, it became 
necessary to surround them as far as possible with the 
appearance of natural beings. Their occupation was 
hunting and war; their arms the bow, spear, axe, a half 
shield, nearly in the shape of a crescent, called pelta, 
and in early art a helmet, the model before the Greek 
mind having apparently been the goddess Athena. In 
later art they approach the model of Artemis, wearing a 
thin dress, girt high for speed; while on the later 
painted vases their dress is often peculiarly Persian — 
that is, close-fitting trousers and a high cap called the kidaris. They were usually on horseback but sometimes on 
foot. They can also be identified in vase paintings by the fact that they are wearing one earring. The battle between 
Theseus and the Amazons (Amazonomachy) is a favourite subject on the friezes of temples (e.g. the reliefs from the 
frieze of the temple of Apollo at Bassae, now in the British Museum), vases and sarcophagus reliefs; at Athens it was 
represented on the shield of the statue of Athena Parthenos, on wall-paintings in the Theseum and in the Stoa Poikile. 
There were also three standard Amazon statue types. 

Two female gladiators with their names Amazonia and Achillea 

In historiography 

Herodotus reported that the Sarmatians were descendants of Amazons and Scythians, and that their wives observed 
their ancient maternal customs, "frequently hunting on horseback with their husbands; in war taking the field; and 
wearing the very same dress as the men". Moreover, said Herodotus, "No girl shall wed till she has killed a man in 
battle". In the story related by Herodotus, a group of Amazons was blown across the Maeotian Lake (the Sea of 
Azov) into Scythia near the cliff region (today's southeastern Crimea). After learning the Scythian language, they 
agreed to marry Scythian men, on the condition that they not be required to follow the customs of Scythian women. 
According to Herodotus, this band moved toward the northeast, settling beyond the Tanais (Don) river, and became 
the ancestors of the Sauromatians. According to Herodotus, the Sarmatians fought with the Scythians against Darius 
the Great in the 5th century B.C. 

Hippocrates describes them as: "They have no right breasts. ..for while they are yet babies their mothers make red-hot 
a bronze instrument constructed for this very purpose and apply it to the right breast and cauterize it, so that its 
growth is arrested, and all its strength and bulk are diverted to the right shoulder and right arm." 

Amazons came to play a role in Roman historiography. Caesar reminded the Senate of the conquest of large parts of 
Asia by Semiramis and the Amazons. Successful Amazon raids against Lycia and Cilicia contrasted with effective 
resistance by Lydian cavalry against the invaders (Strabo 5.504; Nicholas Damascenus). Gnaeus Pompeius Tragus 
pays particularly detailed attention to the Amazons. The story of the Amazons as deriving from a Cappadocian 
colony of two Scythian princes Ylinos and Scolopetos is due to him. Philostratus places the Amazons in the Taurus 
Mountains. Ammianus places them east of Tanais, as neighbouring the Alans. Procopius places them in the 
Caucasus. Diodorus Siculus {Bibliotheca historica chapter 49) derived the Amazons from Atlantis and located them 
in western Libya. He also relates the story of Hercules defeating the Amazons at Themiscyre. Although Strabo 
shows scepticism as to their historicity, the Amazons in general continue to be taken as historical throughout Late 

Amazons 120 

Antiquity. Several Church Fathers speak of the Amazons as of a real people. Solinus embraces the account of 
Plinius. Under Aurelianus, captured Gothic women were identified as Amazons (Claudianus). The account of 
Justinus was influential, and was used as a source by Orosius who continued to be read during the European Middle 
Ages. Medieval authors thus continue the tradition of locating the Amazons in the North, Adam of Bremen placing 
them at the Baltic Sea and Paulus Diaconus in the heart of Germania. 

Medieval and Renaissance literature 

Amazons continued to be discussed by authors of the European Renaissance, and with the Age of Exploration, they 

were located in ever more remote areas. In 1542, Francisco de Orellana reached the Amazon River (Amazonas in 

Spanish), naming it after a tribe of warlike women he claimed having encountered and fought there. Afterwards 

the whole basin and region of the Amazon (Amazonia in Spanish) were named after the river. Amazons also figure in 


the accounts of both Christopher Columbus and Walter Raleigh. Famous medieval traveller John Mandeville 
mentions them in his book: 

"Beside the land of Chaldea is the land of Amazonia, that is the land of Feminye. And in that real is all woman 
and no man; not as some may say, that men may not live there, but for because that the women will not suffer 
no men amongst them to be their sovereigns." 

Medieval and Renaissance authors credit the Amazons with the invention of the battle-axe. This is probably related 
to the Sagaris, an axe-like weapon associated with both Amazons and Scythian tribes by Greek authors (see also 
Thracian tomb of Aleksandrovo kurgan). Paulus Hector Mair expresses astonishment that such a "manly weapon" 
should have been invented by a "tribe of women", but he accepts the attribution out of respect for his authority, 
Johannes Aventinus. 

Ariosto's Orlando Furioso contains a country of warrior women, ruled by Queen Orontea; the epic describes an 
origin much like that in Greek myth, in that the women, abandoned by a band of warriors and unfaithful lovers, 
rallied together to form a nation from which men were severely reduced, to prevent them from regaining power. The 
Amazons and Queen Hippolyta are also referenced in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in "The Knight's Tale". 

Historical background 

Classicist Peter Walcot wrote, "Wherever the Amazons are located by the Greeks, whether it is somewhere along the 
Black Sea in the distant north-east, or in Libya in the furthest south, it is always beyond the confines of the civilized 
world. The Amazons exist outside the range of normal human experience." 

Nevertheless, there are various proposals for a historical nucleus of the Amazons of Greek historiography, the most 
obvious candidates being historical Scythia and Sarmatia in line with the account by Herodotus, but some authors 
prefer a comparison to cultures of Asia Minor or even Minoan Crete. 

Scythians and Sarmatians 

Speculation that the idea of Amazons contains a core of reality is based on archaeological findings from burials, 
pointing to the possibility that some Sarmatian women may have participated in battle. These findings have led 
scholars to suggest that the Amazonian legend in Greek mythology may have been "inspired by real warrior 

.. [81] 

women . 

Evidence of high-ranking warrior women comes from kurgans in southern Ukraine and Russia. David Anthony 
notes, "About 20% of Scythian-Sarmatian "warrior graves" on the lower Don and lower Volga contained women 
dressed for battle similar to how men dress, a phenomenon that probably inspired the Greek tales about the 



Up to 25% of military burials were of armed Sarmatian women usually 


including bows. Russian archaeologist Vera Kovalevskaya points 
out that when Scythian men were away fighting or hunting, nomadic 
women would have to be able to defend themselves, their animals and 
pasture-grounds competently. During the time that the Scythians 
advanced into Asia and achieved near-hegemony in the Near-East, 
there was a period of twenty-eight years when the men would have 
been away on campaigns for long periods. During this time the women 
would not only have had to defend themselves, but to reproduce and 
this could well be the origin of the idea that Amazons mated once a 
year with their neighbours, if Herodotus actually intended to base this 
on a factual base 


■£ ;i Wii , / tl - 




lav ,. L'^ssKaB! ^ 




K i& 





" s ^-^ i= ^^^^^L. 

Mounted Amazon in Scythian costume, on an 
Attic red-figure vase, ca 420 BCE 

Before modern archaeology uncovered some of the Scythian burials of 

warrior-maidens entombed under kurgans in the region of Altai Mountains and Sarmatia, giving concrete 

form at last to the Greek tales of mounted Amazons, the origin of the story of the Amazons has been the subject of 

speculation among classics scholars. In the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica speculation ranged along the following 


"While some regard the Amazons as a purely mythical people, others assume an historical foundation for 
them. The deities worshipped by them were Ares (who is consistently assigned to them as a god of war, and as 
a god of Thracian and generally northern origin) and Artemis, not the usual Greek goddess of that name, but 
an Asiatic deity in some respects her equivalent. It is conjectured that the Amazons were originally the 
temple-servants and priestesses (hierodulae) of this goddess; and that the removal of the breast corresponded 
with the self-mutilation of the god Attis and the galli, Roman priests of Rhea Cybele. Another theory is that, as 
the knowledge of geography extended, travellers brought back reports of tribes ruled entirely by women, who 
carried out the duties which elsewhere were regarded as peculiar to man, in whom alone the rights of nobility 
and inheritance were vested, and who had the supreme control of affairs. Hence arose the belief in the 
Amazons as a nation of female warriors, organized and governed entirely by women. According to J. 
Viirtheim (De Ajacis origine, 1907), the Amazons were of Greek origin [...] It has been suggested that the fact 
of the conquest of the Amazons being assigned to the two famous heroes of Greek mythology, Heracles and 
Theseus [...] shows that they were mythical illustrations of the dangers which beset the Greeks on the coasts of 
Asia Minor; rather perhaps, it may be intended to represent the conflict between the Greek culture of the 
colonies on the Euxine and the barbarism of the native inhabitants." 



Minoan Crete 

When Minoan archeology was still in 
its infancy, nevertheless, a theory 
raised in an essay regarding the 
Amazons contributed by Lewis 
Richard Farnell and John Myres to 
Robert Ranulph Marett's Anthropology 
and the Classics (1908), placed 
their possible origins in Minoan 
civilization, drawing attention to 
overlooked similarities between the 
two cultures. According to Myres, 
(pp. 153 ff), the tradition interpreted in 
the light of evidence furnished by 
supposed Amazon cults seems to have 
been very similar and may have even 
originated in Minoan culture. 

Departure of the Amazons, by Claude Deruet, 1620. 


[1] "4,000-year-old legend about northern Turkey to become film - Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review" (http://www. . Retrieved 2010-09-07. 
[2] Schmitz, Leonhard (1867). "Amazones" ( In William Smith. Dictionary of Greek 

and Roman Biography and Mythology. 1. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, pp. 137—138. . 
[3] Lagercrantz, Xenia Lideniana (1912), 270ff., cited after Hjalmar Frisk, Greek Etymological Dictionary (1960, 1970) (http://www. cgi?url=response.cgi?root=leiden&morpho=0&basename=\data\ie\frisk&first=351& 

[4] Jacobsohn, KZ 54, 278ff., cited after Hjalmar Frisk (1960, 1970). 
[5] Guy Cadogan Rothery, The Amazons (1910) , ch. 7 ( "There have been some 

authors who trace the word Amazon from this term. " 
[6] Hinge 2005, pp. 94-98 
[7] "Amazon" ( Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. 

2001. . 
[8] This area is known to have been occupied in the Late Bronze Age by a transhumant group known to the Hittites as the Kaska; though they 

were not directly known to Greeks, modern archaeologists have detected that they finally defeated their enemies, the Hittites, about 1200 

BCE; they left no inscriptions. 
[9] Strabo xi. 503. 



History of Herodotus, Book 4 

Homer, Iliad vi. 186, &c. 

Scholiast On Lycophron 17 

Homer, Iliad Book ii.45-46; book hi. 52-55 

Homer, Iliad iii. 189 

In the Aethiopis, a continuation of the Iliad. The epic, by Arctinus of Miletus, is lost: only references to it survive. 

Quintus Smyrnaeus i. 699 

Justin ii.4 

Virgil, Aeneid i. 490 

Pausanias, Description of Greece v. 11. § 2 

Philostratus Her. xix. 19 

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bihliotheca ii. 5 

Diodorus Siculus, Bihliotheca historica iv. 16 

Gaius Julius Hyginus, Fabulae 30 

Quintus Smyrnaeus xi. 244 













Pausanias, Description of Greece i. 2 

Plutarch, Theseus 26-28 

Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica I 

Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca historical 1 */. 16 

Gaius Julius Hyginus, Fabulae 163 

Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica (, 6. 370-377 

Latin Anthology, 392 (Traiani Imperatoris e Bello Parthico versus decori), ed. Riese 

Tzetzes, Posthomerica, 176-183 

Stephanus of Byzantium, s. v. Thibai's 

Eustathius on Dionysius Periegetes, 828 

Sextus Pompeius Festus, s. v. Aegeum Mare 

New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art 42.11.33, ca. 600. LIMC, "Achilleus" no. 720*. 

Perseus Digital Library - Description of the Tyrrhenian amphora (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/artifact?name=Boston 98.916& 

Demosthenes in Stephanus of Byzantium s. v. Amastris 

Strabo, Geography, 12. 3.11 

Stephanus of Byzantium s. v. Anaia 

Perseus Digital Library - Detail of the vase painting that portrays the fight between Andromache and Heracles (http://www.perseus. tufts. 
edu/hopper/image?img=Perseus:image: 1990.24.0349) 

Mimnermus, Fragment 21a 

Blok, Josine H. The early Amazons: modern and ancient perspectives on a persistent myth. Brill, 1995; page 218 (http://books. google. 
ved=0CCwQ6AEwBjgU#v=onepage&q='Areto" "Iphito"&f=false) (with a reference to Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, 
'Amazones" entry, vol. 1, p. 653) 

Tzetzes on Lycophron, 995 

Stephanus of Byzantium, s. v. Kyme 

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 3. 55 

Stephanus of Byzantium, s. v. Kynna. Stephanus does not write out the Amazon's name, simply stating that the town Cynna could have been 
named "after one of the Amazons". 

Etymologicum Magnum 402. 8, under Ephesos 

Stephanus of Byzantium, s. v. Ephesos 

Arrian cited by Eustathius in Fragmenta historicorum Graecorum, vol. Ill, p. 595 ( 
books ?id=YsZAAAAAcAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false) 

F. A. Ukert, Die Amazonen, Abhandlungen der philosophisch-philologischen Classe der Koniglich Bayerischen Akademie der 
Wissenschaften (1849). 

Eurypyle ( 

Servius on Aeneid, 4. 345 

William Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, v. 2, page 315 ( 

Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History', 4, summarized in Photius, [[Bibliotheca (Photius)IBibliotheca ( 
photius_copyright/photius_05bibliotheca.htm)], 190], although the source does not explicitly state that she was an Amazon 

Callimachus, Hymn 3 to Artemis, 239 & 267 

Justin's Epitome of Tragus Pompeius' History of the World, Book 2, part IV ( 

Paulus Orosius, Historiae adversus paganos, I. 15 ( 

Athenaeus, Banquet of the Learned, 1. 3 ID (p 139), with a reference to Alciphron of Maeander 

Pseudo-Plutarch, On Rivers, 14 

Scholia on Pindar, Nemean Ode 3. 64 

Plutarch, Theseus, 27 

Stephanus of Byzantium, s. v. Myrleia 

Scholia on Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 1. 752; compare also Pausanias, Description of Greece, 8. 14. 8, where it is deemed likely that 
the Myrtoan Sea takes its name from a certain woman named Myrto 

Hyginus, Fabulae, 224 

Scholia on Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 2. 946 

Stephanus of Byzantium, s. v. Siovgfia 

Strabo, Geography, 14. 1. 4 

Stephanus of Byzantium, ss. vv. Smyrna, Ephesos 

Strabo, Geography, 11. 5. 5; 12. 3. 22; 14. 1. 4 

Amazons 124 

[71] Pritchett, W. Kendrick (1998). Studies in ancient Greek topography: Passes (http://books. google. 


ved=0CCkQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Smyma amazon Strabo&f=false). University of California Press, p. 276. ISBN 978-0-520-09660-8. . 

Retrieved 30 September 2010. 
[72] Appian, Mithridatic Wars, 78 (§78) 
[73] Eustathius] on Homer, Iliad 2. 814 
[74] "The Internet Classics Archive I Theseus by Plutarch" (http://www. google. com/search?q=cache:BiDerPMT15YJ:classics. 

Plutarch/theseus.html+Amazon+statues+in+Scotussa&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=4). 2010-09-02. . Retrieved 

[75] Ancient History Sourcebook: Pausanias: Description of Greece, Book I: Attica ( 

[76] F. A. Ukert, Die Amazonen, Abhandlungen der philosophisch-philologischen Classe der Koniglich Bayerischen Akademie der 

Wissenschaften (1849), 63.. 
[77] It has been suggested that what Orellana actually engaged was an especially warlike tribe of Native Americans whose warrior men had long 

hair and thus appeared to him as women. See Theobaldo Miranda Santos, Lendas e mitos do Brasil ("Brazil's legends and myths"), Companhia 

Editora Nacional, 1979. 
[78] Ukert (1849), p. 35. 

[79] The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, Dover publications, Mineola, New York, 2006, cap. XVII, p. 103-104 

[80] P. Walcot, "Greek Attitudes towards Women: The Mythological Evidence" Greece & Rome2nd Series 31.1 (April 1984, pp. 37-47) p 42. 
[81] Lyn Webster Wilde, "Did the Amazons really exist?" Diotima ( 
[82] Anthony, David W. (2007). The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern 

World ( Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-05887-3. . 
[83] Diotima ( 
[84] "Warrior Women of Eurasia" (, Archaeology Magazine (Abstract) Volume 

50 Number 1 , January /February 1997 Retrieved 7/10/08. 
[85] In a recent excavation of Sarmatian sites by Dr. Jeannine Davis-Kimball, a tomb was found wherein female warriors were buried. 
[86] L.R. Farnell and J.L. Myres, "Herodotus and anthropology" in Robert R. Marett Anthropology and the Classics 1908, pp. 138ff. 


• F.G. Bergmann, Les Amazones dans Vhistoire et dans la fable (1853) (French) 

• Josine H. Blok (Peter Mason, tr.), The Early Amazons: Modern and Ancient Perspectives on a Persistent Myth 

• Dietrich von Bothmer, Amazons in Greek Art (Oxford University Press, 1957) 

• George Grote, History of Greece, pt. i, ch. 11. 

• Hinge, George (2005). "Herodot zur skythischen Sprache. Arimaspen, Amazonen und die Entdeckung des 
Schwarzen Meeres" ( (in German). Glotta 81: 86—115. 

• A. Klugmann, Die Amazonen in der attischen Literatur und Kunst (1875) (German) 

• H.L. Krause, Die Amazonensage (1893) (German) 

• P. Lacour, Les Amazones (1901) (French) 

• Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, vol. I, s.v. 'Amazones". 

• Andreas David Mordtmann, Die Amazonen (Hanover, 1862) (German) 

• Pauly-Wissowa, Realencyclopadie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 

• W. H. Roscher, Ausfilhrliches Lexikon der griechischen und romischen Mythologie (German) 

• Theobaldo Miranda Santos, Lendas e mitos do Brasil (Companhia Editora Nacional, 1979) (Portuguese) 

• W. Strieker, Die Amazonen in Sage und Geschichte (1868) (German) 

Amazons 125 

External links 

• Wounded Amazon ( 

• Herodotus on the Amazons ( 1 10. 1) 

• Herodotus via Gutenberg (http://www.gutenberg.Org/browse/authors/h#a828) 

• Perseus ( 

• Straight Dope: Amazons ( 

• Religious cults associated with the Amazons ( (Florence 
Mary Bennett, 1912) 


In Greek mythology, Antiope ( 4 /aen'tal.epi:/) was an Amazon, daughter of Ares and sister to Melanippe and 
Hippolyte and possibly Orithyia, queens of the Amazons,. She was the wife of Theseus, and the only Amazon 
known to have married. There are various accounts of the manner in which Theseus became possessed of her, and of 
her subsequent fortunes. 

In one version, during Heracles' ninth labor, which was to obtain the Girdle of Hippolyte, when he captured the 
Amazons' capital of Themiscyra, his companion Theseus, king of Athens, abducted Antiope and brought her to his 
home (or she was captured by Heracles and then given by him to Theseus ). According to Pausanias, 

Antiope fell in love with Theseus and betrayed the Amazons of her own free will. They were eventually married and 
she gave birth to a son, Hippolytus, who was named after Antiope's sister. Soon after, the Amazons attacked Athens 
in an attempt to rescue Antiope and to take back Hippolyte's girdle; however, in a battle near the hill of Ares they 
were defeated. During this conflict, known as the Attic War, Antiope was accidentally shot dead by an Amazon 
named Molpadia, who, in her turn, was then killed by Theseus. Tombs of both Antiope and Molpadia were shown 
in Athens. [5] 

According to some sources, the cause for the Amazons' attack on Athens was the fact that Theseus had abandoned 
Antiope and planned to marry Phaedra. Antiope was furious about this and decided to attack them on their wedding 
day. She promised to kill every person in attendance; however, she was slain instead by Theseus himself, fulfilling 

an oracle's prophecy to that effect. Ovid mentions that Theseus killed Antiope despite the fact that she was 

♦ [8] 

An alternate version of the myth relates all of the facts concerning Antiope (abduction by Theseus, their marriage, 

birth of Hippolytus, her being left behind in favour of Phaedra) not of her, but of Hippolyte. In various 

accounts of this version, the subsequent attack on Athens either does not occur at all or is led by Orithyia. 


In Giovanni Boccaccio's Famous Women, a chapter is dedicated to Antiope and Orithyia. 

Antiope 126 


[I] Orosius, Historiae adversus paganos, I. 15 ( 

[2] Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, Epitome of Book IV, 1. 16; this source also cites a rare version which makes Melanippe, not Antiope, the 

one captured by Theseus 
[3] Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 4. 16 
[4] Hyginus, Fabulae, 30 
[5] Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1. 2. 1 
[6] Plutarch, Theseus, 26—27 
[7] Hyginus, Fabulae 241 
[8] Ovid, Heroides, 4. 1 17-120 

[9] Simonides in Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, Epitome 1. 16 
[10] Euripides, Hippolytus 

[II] Athenaeus, Banquet of the Learned, 13. 557 (where she is called "Hippe") 

[12] Justin's Epitome of Trogus Pompeius' History of the World, Book 2, part IV ( 
[13] Giovanni Boccaccio's Famous Women translated by Virginia Brown (2001), p. 41-42; Cambridge and London, Harvard University Press; 
ISBN 0-674-01130-9; 


• Watson, John Selby. Justin, Cornelius Nepos, and Eutropius: Literally Translated, pp. 21—22, 547; Published 
1853 H. G. Bohn, (Original in the New York Public Library). 

• Williams, Henry Smith. The Historians' History of the World: A Comprehensive Narrative of the Rise, v. 2, 
pp. 440-441; Published 1904 The Outlook Company, New York Public Library. 

• Justinus. Epitoma Historiarum philippicarum Pompei Trogi, II.4. 17-30. 

• Orosius. Historiae adversus paganos, 1. 15.7-9. 


In Greek mythology, Otrera (Greek: Otpr|pr| Otrere) was a Queen of the Amazons; the daughter of Eurus (the east 
wind), consort of Ares and mother of Hippolyta, Antiope, Melanippe and Penthesilea. 


Otrera is sometimes considered the mythological founder of the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, which was closely 


connected with Amazons. She is also sometimes considered the founder of the Amazon nation, though many 
myths place the first Amazons much earlier. 


[1] Bibliotheca, Epitome of Book IV, 5. 1 

[2] Hyginus, Fabulae, 30; 1 12 

[3] Hyginus, Fabulae 223, 225 

[4] Pausanias, Description of Greece 7. 2. 6 


• Grimal, Pierre, The Dictionary of Classical Mythology (http://books. google. com/books ?id=iOx6de8LUNAC& 
printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false), Wiley-Blackwell, 1996, 
ISBN 978-0-631-20102-1. "Hippolyta" ( 

• Hyginus, Fabulae 225 (http://www.theoi.eom/Text/HyginusFabulae5.html#225) 

• Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Otre'ra" (http:// 
www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0104:alphabetic+letter=O:entry+ 
group=8:entry=otrera-bio-l), "Hippo'lyte" (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 



04. 1 04: alphabetic+letter=H:entry+group= 1 5 :entry=hippoly te-bio- 1 ) 

External links 

• The Theoi Project, "OTRERA" ( 

• Florence Mary Bennett, Religious Cults Associated with the Amazons: (1912) ( 
wmn/rca/rca04.htm): Chapter III: Ephesian Artemis (text) 

• Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica: ( (uncertain date, possibly 4th 
century AD) (text) 


Penthesilea (Greek: ITEvOEoLXELa) or Penthesileia was an Amazonian 

queen in Greek mythology, the daughter of Ares and Otrera and the 

sister of Hippolyta, Antiope and Melanippe. Quintus Smyrnaeus 

explains more fully than pseudo-Apollodorus how Penthesilea came to be 

at Troy: Penthesilea had killed Hippolyta with a spear when they were 

hunting deer; this accident caused Penthesilea so much grief that she 

wished only to die, but, as a warrior and an Amazon, she had to do so 

honorably and in battle. She therefore was easily convinced to join in the 

Trojan War, fighting on the side of Troy's defenders. 

Penthesilea in Quintus Smyrnaeus' Posthomerica 

Penthesilea arrives in Troy at the start of Posthomerica the night before 

the fighting is due to recommence for the first time after Hector's death 

and funeral. She came to Troy for two reasons: firstly, to prove to others 

that her people, the Amazons, are great warriors and can share the 

hardships of war and, secondly, to appease the Gods after she accidentally 

killed her sister, Hippolyta, while hunting. She arrived with twelve 

companions and promised the Trojans that she would kill Achilles. On her 

first, and only, day of fighting, Penthesilea kills many men and clashes 

with Telamonian Ajax, although there is no clear victor, before she comes 

face to face with Achilles, who had been summoned by Telamonian Ajax. 

Prior to Achilles' entrance, Penthesilea had tried to fight Telamonian Ajax 

but he had merely laughed off her attempts, thinking her unfit to face him. 

Achilles eventually kills her, needing only one blow to her breastplate to 

knock her over and leave her begging for her life. He is unmoved by her 

pleas, however, and kills her. He mocks her corpse until he removes her helmet. At this point, Achilles commits 

necrophilia on her dead corpse. "Priestesses" by Norma Lorre Goodrich 

Penthesilea (1862), by Gabriel- Vital Dubray 

(1813-1892). East facade of the Cour Carree 

in the Louvre palace, Paris 




Penthesilea in the Epic Cycle 

Proclus, who summarized the lost epic, the Aethiopis of Arctinos of Miletus, of which only five lines survive in a 
quotation, gave the events of Penthesilea's life. The story of Penthesilea segues so smoothly from the Iliad in the 
Epic Cycle that one manuscript tradition of the Iliad ends 

"Such were the funeral games of Hector. And now there came an Amazon, the great-hearted daughter of 
man-slaying Ares. " 

According to Diodorus Siculus 

"Now they say that Penthesileia was the last of the Amazons to win distinction for bravery and that for the 
future the race diminished more and more and then lost all its strength; consequently in later times, whenever 
any writers recount their prowess, men consider the ancient stories about the Amazons to be fictitious tales. " 
(Diodorus Siculus, ii. 46). 

Alongside Penthesilea were twelve other Amazons, including Antibrote, Ainia, and Clete. The rest were Alcibie, 
Antandre, Bremusa, Derimacheia, Derinoe, Harmothoe, Hippothoe, Polemusa, and Thermodosa 


Death of Penthesilea 

In the Pseudo-Apollodorus Epitome of the 
Bibliotheke she is said to have been killed 
by Achilles, "who fell in love with the 
Amazon after her death and slew Thersites 
for jeering at him". The common 
interpretation of this has been that Achilles 
was romantically enamored of Penthesilea 
(a view that appears to be supported by 
Pausanias, who noted that the throne of Zeus 
at Olympia bore Panaenus' painted image of 
the dying Penthesilea being supported by 


Achilles). Twelfth-century Byzantine 

scholar Eustathius of Thessalonica 
postulated a more brutal and literalist 
reading of the term loved, however, 
maintaining that Achilles actually 
committed an act of necrophilia on her 

corpse as a final insult to her 


Penthesilea by Arturo Michelena 

The Greek Thersites mockingly jeered at 

Achilles's treatment of Penthesilea's body, 

whereupon Achilles killed him. "When the 

roughneck was at last killed by Achilles, for 

mocking the hero's lament over the death of 

the Amazon queen Penthesilea, a sacred 

feud was fought for Thersites' sake": 

Thersites' cousin Diomedes, enraged at 

Achilles' action, harnessed Penthesilea's corpse behind his chariot, dragged it and cast it into the Scamander, whence, 

however, it was retrieved and given decent burial, whether by Achilles or by the Trojans is not known from our 

Achilles kills Penthesilea in the tondo of an Attic 
red-figure kylix, 470-460 BCE, found at Vulci 

fragmentary sources 


Penthesilea 129 

Robert Graves on Penthesilea 


In Robert Graves' homonymous poem , F 

slays Thersites for his disrespect towards Penthesilea. 

A differen 
of Apollo. 

In Robert Graves' homonymous poem , Penthesilea is "despoiled of her arms by Prince Achilles". Yet, Achilles 


A different tradition, attested in a lost poem of Stesichorus makes Penthesilea the slayer of Hector, seen as a son 

Theme of Penthesilea 

The subject of Penthesilea was treated so regularly by a sixth-century BC Attic vase-painter, whose work bridged the 
"Severe style" and Classicism, that Adolf Furtwangler dubbed the anonymous master "The 'Penthesilea Painter". A 
considerable corpus for this innovative and prolific painter, who must have had a workshop of his own, was rapidly 


assembled in part by J.D. Beazley. 

Eleanor of Aquitaine compared to Penthesilea 

The Byzantine historian Nicetas Choniates compared Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, who took part in the Second 
Crusade, with Penthesilea. 

Heinrich von Kleist's Penthesilea 

The treatment of Penthesilea that has received most critical attention since the early twentieth century, however, is 
the drama Penthesilea by Heinrich von Kleist, who cast its "precipitously violent tempo" in the form of 
twenty-four consecutive scenes, without formal breaks into acts. The Swiss composer Othmar Schoeck wrote a 90' 
one-act opera, Penthesilea (Dresden, 1927) based on Kleist's drama. 

Popular culture 

The asteroid 271 Penthesilea, discovered in 1887, was named in her honor. 

Penthiselea (a variant spelling of Penthesilea) is the name of a character in the BBC radio series ElvenQuest, a comic 
fantasy which aired in 2009. Penthiselea is a warrior princess, and a member of a band of adventurers sworn to put 
an end to the reign of the evil Lord Darkness. The character of Penthiselea is played by English actress Sophie 


[I] Otrera is commonly invoked as the founder of the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus. 
[2] Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomericai.l&ff. 

[3] Quintus, and Alan James. "Book I." The Trojan Epic: Posthomerica. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2004. 1-20. Print. 

[4] Quintus Smyrnaeus on-line text. ( 

[5] Julie Ruffell, "Brave women warriors of Greek myth: an Amazon roster" ( gives a long 
alphabetized list of Amazon names, but with no citations. 

[6] Pseudo-Apollodorus Epitome of the Bibliotheke 5. 1 (Sir James George Frazer's translation). 

[7] Sextus Propertius, in Book III. 11, poem XI, of his Elegies 

[8] ""And, at the extremity of the painting, is Penthesilea breathing her last, and Achilles supporting her" (Pausanias, 10.31.1 and 5.11.2, noted 
by Graves 1960) This was the action that aroused Thersites' scorn. 

[9] Eustathius on Homer, 1696. An act of necrophilia is not otherwise attested in any Greek epic, and this alleged act passed without notice by 
any commentator in Antiquity. Pseudo-Apollodorus Epitome v. 1-2 does not mention this reading, and its editor Sir James George Frazer did 
not mention Eustathius' reading in his notes. For the death of Penthesilea, the medieval Rawlinson Excidium Troie was noted by Robert 
Graves, The Greek Myths section 164, London: Penguin, (1955) 1960; Baltimore: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-001026-2. 

[10] Abraham Feldman, "The Apotheosis of Thersites" The Classical Journal 42.4 (January 1947, pp. 219-220) p 220. 

[II] Graves 1960:section 164. 




[13] Quoted by John Tzetzes, On Lycophron, 266, noted by Graves 1960, section 163q, note 21. 

[14] Mary Hamilton Swindler, "The Penthesilea Master" American Journal of Archaeology 19.4 (October 1915), pp. 398-417. In the series Bilder 

Griechischen Vasen volume 10, edited by Hans Diepolder (1936) is devoted to the Penthesilea-Maler. 
[15] John C. Blankenagel, The Dramas of Heinrich von Kleist: A Biographical and Critical Study (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina 

Press) 1931, p 145. 
[16] Schmadel, Lutz D.; International Astronomical Union (2003). Dictionary of minor planet names ( 

books?id=KWrBljPCa8AC&pg=PA39). Berlin; New York: Springer- Verlag. p. 39. ISBN 978-3-540-00238-3. . Retrieved 9 September 2011. 
[17] "The audio recording of ElvenQuest, published by BBC Audio in August 2009, ISBN 139781408439241 " 


• Justinus, Epitome Historiarum philippicarum Pompei Trogi ii.4.31-32 

• Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Tragus Book 2 ( 
justin/english/ trans2.html) 

• The audio recording of ElvenQuest, published by BBC Audio in August 2009, ISBN 139781408439241 


According to the mythological Greek Alexander Romance, Queen 
Thalestris (Ancient Greek: ©aXi]otpL<;) of the Amazons brought 
300 women to Alexander the Great, hoping to breed a race of 
children as strong and intelligent as he. According to the legend, 
she stayed with the Macedonian king for 13 days and nights in the 
hope that the great warrior would father a daughter by her. 

However, several of Alexander's biographers dispute the claim, 
including the highly regarded secondary source, Plutarch. He 
mentions 14 authors, some of whom believed the story (so 
Onesicritus, Cleitarchus), while others took it to be only fiction (so 
Aristobulus of Cassandreia, Chares of Mytilene, Ptolemy I of 


Egypt, Duris of Samos). 

In his writing Plutarch also makes mention of when Alexander's 

secondary naval commander, Onesicritus, was reading the 

Amazon passage of his Alexander history to King Lysimachus of Thrace who was on the original expedition, the 

king smiled at him and said "And where was I, then? 

Thalestris from "Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum ' 


The story is rejected by modern scholars as legendary. Perhaps behind the legend lies the offering by a Scythian king 


of his daughter as a wife for Alexander, as the latter himself wrote in a letter to Antipater. 

Modern references 

Thalestris is also the name of a character in Mary Renault's historical novel The King Must Die, set in the time of the 
mythological Theseus, who lived - if he existed at all - a thousand years or more before Alexander. The Thalestris 
character is depicted by Renault as a skilled Amazonian bull-dancer and valiant warrior - which is presumably why 
the writer gave her the name of an Amazon queen. There is also a brief reference to the courtship between Alexander 
and Thalestris in Beaumarchais' Le Mariage De Figaro'. 

Thalestris 131 


[1] Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca historica 17.77.1-3; Quintus Curtius Rufus, Historiae Alexandri Magni 6.5.24-32; Justin 12.3.5-7 

[2] Plutarch, Alexander 46.1-2; compare Strabo, Geographica 1 1.5.4 p. 505 

[3] Plutarch, Alexander 46.4 

[4] Plutarch, Alexander 46.3 


The Twelve Labours of Heracles 

Labours of Hercules 

The twelve labours of Hercules or 

dodekathlon (Greek: 6o)6EKa6Xov, 
dodekathlon) are a series of episodes 
concerning a penance carried out by 
Heracles, the greatest of the Greek 
heroes, whose name was later 
romanised as Hercules. They were 
later connected by a continuous 
narrative. The establishment of a fixed 
cycle of twelve labours was attributed 
by the Greeks to an epic poem, now 
lost, written by Peisander, dated about 600 BC 

Roman relief (3rd century CE) depicting a sequence of the Labours of Hercules, 

representing from left to right the Nemean Lion, the Lernaean Hydra, the Erymanthian 

Boar, the Ceryneian Hind, the Stymphalian birds, the Girdle of Hippolyte, the Augean 

stables, the Cretan Bull and the Mares of Diomedes 



Driven mad by Hera, Hercules slew his own six sons. After recovering his sanity, Hercules deeply regretted his 
actions; he was purified by King Thespius, then traveled to Delphi to inquire how he could atone for his actions. 
There the oracle Pythoness advised him to reside at Tyrins and serve King Eurystheus for twelve years, performing 
whatever labour might beset him; in return, he would be rewarded with immortality. Hercules despaired at this, 
loathing to serve a man whom he knew to be far inferior to himself, yet afraid to oppose his father Zeus. Eventually 
he placed himself at Eurystheus's disposal. 

Eurystheus ordered Hercules to perform ten labours. Hercules accomplished these tasks, but Eurystheus refused to 
recognize two: the cleansing of the Augeas, because Hercules was going to accept pay for the labour; and the killing 
of the Lernaean Hydra, as Hercules' nephew and charioteer Iolaus had helped him. Eurystheus set two more tasks 
(fetching the Golden Apples of Hesperides and capturing Cerberus), which Hercules performed successfully, 
bringing the total number of tasks to twelve. 

The labours 

As they survive, the labours of Hercules are not told in any single 

place, but must be reassembled from many sources. Ruck and 

Staples assert that there is no one way to interpret the labours, but 

that six were located in the Peloponnese, culminating with the 

rededication of Olympia. Six others took the hero farther afield. In 

each case, the pattern was the same: Hercules was sent to kill or 

subdue, or to fetch back for Hera's representative Eurystheus a magical 

animal or plant. "The sites selected were all previously strongholds of 

Hera or the 'Goddess' and were Entrances to the Netherworld". 

'■ : 

The Heracles Papyrus, a fragment of a 

3rd-century Greek manuscript of a poem about 

the Labours of Heracles (Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 


Labours of Hercules 133 

A famous depiction of the labours in Greek sculpture is found on the metopes of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, 
which date to the 450s BC. 

In his labours, Hercules was sometimes accompanied by a male companion (an eromenos), according to Licymnius 
and others, such as Iolaus, his nephew. Although he was only supposed to perform ten labours, this assistance led to 
his suffering two more. Eurystheus didn't count the Hydra, because Iolaus helped him, or the Augean stables, as he 
received payment for his work, or because the rivers did the work. Several of the labours involved the offspring (by 
various accounts) of Typhon and his mate Echidna, all overcome by Hercules. 

A traditional order of the labours found in the Bibliotheca is: 

1 . Slay the Nemean Lion. 

2. Slay the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra. 

3. Capture the Golden Hind of Artemis. 

4. Capture the Erymanthian Boar. 

5. Clean the Augean stables in a single day. 

6. Slay the Stymphalian Birds. 

7. Capture the Cretan Bull. 

8. Steal the Mares of Diomedes. 

9. Obtain the girdle of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. 

10. Obtain the cattle of the monster Geryon. 

11. Steal the apples of the Hesperides (He had the help of Atlas to pick them after Hercules had slain Ladon). 

12. Capture and bring back Cerberus. 

First Labour: Nemean lion 

The first of Hercules' twelve labours, set by his cousin King Eurystheus, was to slay the Nemean lion. 

According to one version of the myth, the Nemean lion took women as hostages 
to its lair in a cave near Nemea, luring warriors from nearby towns to save the 
damsel in distress. After entering the cave, the warrior would see the woman 
(usually feigning injury) and rush to her side. Once he was close, the woman 
would turn into a lion and kill the warrior, devouring his remains and giving the 
bones to Hades. 

Hercules wandered the area until he came to the town of Cleonae. There he met a 
boy who said that if Hercules slew the Nemean lion and returned alive within 30 
days, the town would sacrifice a lion to Zeus, but if he did not return within 30 
days or he died, the boy would sacrifice himself to Zeus. Another version claims 
that he met Molorchos, a shepherd who had lost his son to the lion, saying that if 
he came back within 30 days, a ram would be sacrificed to Zeus. If he did not 
return within 30 days, it would be sacrificed to the dead Heracles as a mourning 

Heracles and the Nemean lion 
(oinochoe, 520-500 BC, from Vulci) offering. 

While searching for the lion, Hercules fletched some arrows to use against it, not 
knowing that its golden fur was impenetrable; when he found and shot the lion and firing at it with his bow, he 
discovered the fur's protective property when the arrow bounced harmlessly off the creature's thigh. After some time, 
Hercules made the lion return to his cave. The cave had two entrances, one of which Hercules blocked; he then 
entered the other. In those dark and close quarters, Hercules stunned the beast with his club and, using his immense 
strength, strangled it to death. During the fight the lion bit off one of his fingers. Others say that he shot arrows at it, 

eventually shooting it in the unarmored mouth. After slaying the lion, he tried to skin it with a knife from his belt, 
but failed. He then tried sharpening the knife with a stone and even tried with the stone itself. Finally, Athena, 

Labours of Hercules 


noticing the hero's plight, told Heracles to use one of the lion's own claws to skin the pelt. Others say that Hercules' 
armor was, in fact, the hide of the lion of Cithaeron. 

When he returned on the thirtieth day carrying the carcass of the lion on his shoulders, King Eurystheus was amazed 
and terrified. Eurystheus forbade him ever again to enter the city; in future he was to display the fruits of his labours 
outside the city gates. In future, Eurystheus told Hercules his tasks through a herald, not personally. Eurystheus even 
had a large bronze jar made for him that he could hide in from Heracles if need be. Eurystheus then warned him that 
the tasks set for him would become increasingly difficult. He then sent Hercules off to complete his next quest, 
which was to destroy the Lernaean hydra. 

Second Labour: Lernaen hydra 

After slaying the Nemean lion, Eurystheus sent Hercules to slay the Hydra, 
which Hera had raised just to slay Hercules. Upon reaching the swamp near Lake 
Lerna, where the Hydra dwelt, Hercules covered his mouth and nose with a cloth 
to protect himself from the poisonous fumes. He fired flaming arrows into the 
Hydra's lair, the spring of Amymone, a deep cave that it only came out of to 
terrorize neighboring villages. He then confronted the Hydra, wielding a 
harvesting sickle (according to some early vase-paintings), a sword or his famed 
club. Ruck and Staples (1994: 170) have pointed out that the chthonic creature's 
reaction was botanical: upon cutting off each of its heads he found that two grew 
back, an expression of the hopelessness of such a struggle for any but the hero. 
The weakness of the Hydra was that only one of its heads was immortal. 

The details of the struggle are explicit in the Bibliotheca (2.5.2): realizing that he 

"Hercules and the hydra" by 

could not defeat the Hydra in this way, Hercules called on his nephew Iolaus for , . „ „ . , 

Antonio Pollaiuolo 

help. His nephew then came upon the idea (possibly inspired by Athena) of using 
a firebrand to scorch the neck stumps after each decapitation. Hercules cut off 

each head and Iolaus cauterized the open stumps. Seeing that Hercules was winning the struggle, Hera sent a large 
crab to distract him. He crushed it under his mighty foot. The Hydra's one immortal head was cut off with a golden 
sword given to him by Athena. Hercules placed it under a great rock on the sacred way between Lerna and Elaius 
(Kerenyi 1959:144), and dipped his arrows in the Hydra's poisonous blood, and so his second task was complete. 
The alternative version of this myth is that after cutting off one head he then dipped his sword in it and used its 
venom to burn each head so it couldn't grow back. Hera, upset that Hercules slew the beast she raised to kill him, 
placed it in the dark blue vault of the sky as the Constellation Hydra. She then turned the crab into the Constellation 

Hercules later used an arrow dipped in the Hydra's poisonous blood to kill the centaur Nessus; and Nessus's tainted 
blood was applied to the Tunic of Nessus, by which the centaur had his posthumous revenge. Both Strabo and 
Pausanias report that the stench of the river Anigrus in Elis, making all the fish of the river inedible, was reputed to 

be due to the Hydra's poison, washed from the arrows Heracles used on the centaur 


Labours of Hercules 


Third Labour: Ceryneian Hind 

Eurystheus and Hera were greatly angered to find that Hercules had 
managed to escape from the claws of the Nemean Lion and the fangs 
of the Lernaean Hydra, and so decided to spend more time thinking up 
a third task that would spell doom for the hero. The third task did not 
involve killing a beast, as it had already been established that Hercules 
could overcome even the most fearsome opponents, so Eurystheus 
decided to make him capture the Ceryneian Hind, as it was so fast it 
could outrun an arrow. 

Hercules and the Ceryneian Hind, 19th-century 

painting by Adolf Schmidt in its architectural 


After beginning the search, Hercules awoke from sleeping and he 

could see the hind from the glint on its antlers. Hercules then chased 

the hind on foot for a full year through Greece, Thrace, Istria and the 

land of the Hyperboreans. In some versions, he captured the hind while it slept, rendering it lame with a trap net. In 

other versions, he encountered Artemis in her temple and she told him to leave the hind and tell Eurystheus all that 

had happened and his third labor would be considered to be completed. Yet another version claims that Heracles 

trapped the Hind with an arrow between the forelegs of the creature. 

Eurystheus had given Hercules this task hoping to incite Artemis' anger 
at Hercules for his desecration of her sacred animal. As he was 
returning with the hind, Hercules encountered Artemis and her brother 
Apollo. He begged the goddess for forgiveness, explaining that he had 
to catch it as part of his penance, but he promised to return it. Artemis 
forgave him, foiling Eurystheus' plan to have her punish him. 

Upon bringing the hind to Eurystheus, he was told that it was to 
become part of the King's menagerie. Hercules knew that he had to 
return the hind as he had promised, so he agreed to hand it over on the 
condition that Eurystheus himself come out and take it from him. The 
King came out, but the moment Hercules let the hind go, it sprinted 
back to its mistress, and Heracles left saying that Eurystheus had not 
been quick enough. Eurystheus, upset that Heracles had managed to 
overcome yet another creature, told him to bring the fearsome Erymanthian Boar back to him alive. 

Heracles and the hind, with Athena and Artemis 
looking on (Attic amphora, 540-530 BCE) 

Fourth Labour: Erymanthian Boar 

Hercules' fourth labour — by some counts, for there is no single definitive telling — was to capture the Boar. On the 
way there, Hercules visited Pholus ("caveman"), a kind and hospitable centaur and old friend. Hercules ate with him 
in his cavern — though the centaur devoured his meat raw — and asked for wine. Pholus had only one jar of wine, a 
gift from Dionysus to all the centaurs on Mt. Erymanthos. Hercules convinced him to open it, and the smell attracted 
the other centaurs. They did not understand that wine needs to be tempered with water, became drunk, and attacked. 
Hercules shot at them with his poisonous arrows, and the centaurs retreated all the way to Chiron's cave. 

Labours of Hercules 


Pholus was curious why the arrows caused so much death, and picked 
one up but dropped it, and the arrow stabbed his foot, poisoning him. 
One version states that a stray arrow hit Chiron as well, but Chiron was 
immortal, although he still felt the pain. Chiron's pain was so great, he 
volunteered to give up his immortality, and take the place of 
Prometheus, who had been chained in to the top of a mountain to have 
his liver eaten daily by an eagle, although he was an immortal Titan. 
Prometheus' torturer, the eagle, continued its torture on Chiron, so 
Hercules shot it dead with an arrow. It is generally accepted that the 
tale was meant to show Hercules as being the recipient of Chiron's 
surrendered immortality. However, this tale contradicts the fact that 
Chiron later taught Achilles. The tale of the Centaurs sometimes 
appears in other parts of the twelve labours, as does the freeing of 

Heracles presenting the boar to the cowering 
Eurystheus (black-figure amphora, ca. 510 BC) 

Hercules had visited Chiron to gain advice on how to catch the boar, and Chiron had told him to drive it into thick 
snow, which sets this Labour in mid-winter. Having successfully caught the Boar, Hercules bound it and carried it 
back to Eurystheus, who was frightened of it and ducked down in his half-buried storage pithos, begging Heracles to 
get rid of the beast, a favorite subject for the vase-painters. Heracles obliged. Roger Lancelyn Green states in his 
Tales of the Greek Heroes that Hercules threw it in the sea. It then swam to Italy, where its tusks were preserved in 
the Temple of Apollo at Cumae. Three days later, Eurystheus, still trembling with fear, sent Hercules to clean the 
Augean stables. 

Fifth Labour: Augean stables 

The fifth Labour of Hercules was to clean the Augean stables 
(pronunciation: /o: 'd3i:en/). This assignment was intended to be both 
humiliating (rather than impressive, as had the previous labours) and 
impossible, since the livestock were divinely healthy (immortal) and 
therefore produced an enormous quantity of dung. These stables had 
not been cleaned in over 30 years, and over 1,000 cattle lived there. 
However, Hercules succeeded by rerouting the rivers Alpheus and 
Peneus to wash out the filth. 

Augeas was irate because he had promised Hercules one tenth of his 

cattle if the job was finished in one day. He refused to honour the 

agreement, and Hercules killed him after completing the tasks. 

Hercules gave his kingdom to Augeas' son Phyleus, who had been 

exiled for supporting Hercules against his father. According to the Odes of the poet Pindar, Hercules then founded 

the Olympic Games: 

Heracles cleaning the Augean stables (mosaic 
from Roman Spain, 201—250 CE) 

the games which by the ancient tomb of Pelops the mighty Hercules founded, after that he slew Kleatos, Poseidon's godly son, and slew also 
Eurytos, that he might wrest from tyrannous Augeas against his will reward for service done. 

The success of this labour was ultimately discounted because the rushing waters had done the work of cleaning the 
stables and because Hercules was paid. Eurystheus, stating that Heracles still had seven Labours to perform, then 
sent Hercules to defeat the Stymphalian Birds. 

Labours of Hercules 


Sixth Labour: Stymphalian Birds 

Hercules and the Stymphalian birds 

(mosaic from Roman Spain, 

201-250 CE) 

After cleaning the Augean Stables, Eurystheus sent Hercules to defeat the 
Stymphalian Birds, man-eating birds with beaks of bronze and sharp metallic 
feathers they could launch at their victims; they were sacred to Ares, the god of 
war. Furthermore, their dung was highly toxic. They had migrated to Lake 
Stymphalia in Arcadia, where they bred quickly and took over the countryside, 
destroying local crops, fruit trees and townspeople. Hercules could not go too far 
into the swamp, for it would not support his weight. Athena, noticing the hero's 
plight, gave Heracles a rattle which Hephaestus had made especially for the 
occasion. Hercules shook the rattle and frightened the birds into the air. Hercules 
then shot many of them with his arrows. The rest flew far away, never to return. 
The Argonauts would later encounter them. 

Seventh Labour: Cretan Bull 

Whistling merrily at his success so far, Hercules was then sent to capture the bull 
by Eurystheus as his seventh task. He sailed to Crete, whereupon the King, 

Minos, gave Hercules permission to take the bull away and offered him 

assistance (which Hercules denied because of pride, ), as it had been wreaking 

havoc on Crete by uprooting crops and leveling orchard walls. Hercules sneaked 

up behind the bull and then used his hands to throttle it (stopping before it was 

killed), and then shipped it back to Athens. Eurystheus, who hid in his pithos at 

first sight of the creature, wanted to sacrifice the bull to Hera, who hated 

Hercules. She refused the sacrifice because it reflected glory on Heracles. The 

bull was released and wandered into Marathon, becoming known as the 

Marathonian Bull. Theseus would later sacrifice the bull to Athena and/or 

Apollo. Eurystheus sent Hercules to bring back the man-eating Mares of 


Hercules forces the bull to the 

ground (engraving by B. Picart, 


Eighth Labour: Mares of Diomedes 

After capturing the Cretan bull, Hercules was to steal the Mares. In one version of the story, Hercules brought a 
number of youths to help him. They took the mares and were chased by Diomedes and his men. 

Labours of Hercules 


Hercules was not aware that the horses, called Podagras (the fast), 
Lampon (the shining), Xanthos (the blond) and Deinos (the terrible), 
were kept tethered to a bronze manger because they were wild; their 


madness being attributed to an unnatural diet of human flesh. Some 
versions say that they expelled fire when they breathed. They were 
man-eating and uncontrollable, and Hercules left his favoured 
companion, Abderus, in charge of them while he fought Diomedes, and 
found out that the boy was eaten. In revenge, Hercules fed Diomedes 
to his own horses, then founded Abdera next to the boy's tomb. 

In another version, Hercules stayed awake so that he didn't have his 
throat cut by Diomedes in the night, and cut the chains binding the 
horses. Having scared the horses onto the high ground of a peninsula, 
Heracles quickly dug a trench through the peninsula, filling it with 
water, thus making it an island. When Diomedes arrived, Hercules 
killed him with an axe (the one used to dig the trench), and fed the 
body to the horses to calm them. 

Both versions have eating make the horses calmer, and Hercules took the opportunity to bind their mouths shut, and 
easily took them back to King Eurystheus, who dedicated the horses to Hera. In some versions, they were allowed to 
roam freely around Argos, having become permanently calm, but in others, Eurystheus ordered the horses taken to 
Olympus to be sacrificed to Zeus, but Zeus refused them, and sent wolves, lions, and bears to kill them. Roger 
Lancelyn Green states in his Tales of the Greek Heroes that their descendants were used in the Trojan War. After the 
incident, Eurystheus sent Heracles to bring back Hippolyta's Girdle. 

Hercules and the Mares of Diomedes, model for a 

tondo of the Brandenburg Gate (terracotta relief 

by Johann Gottfried Schadow, ca. 1790) 

Ninth Labour: Belt of Hippolyta 

Eurystheus' daughter Admete wanted the belt of Hippolyta, a gift to the queen of 
the Amazons from the war god Ares. To please his daughter, Eurystheus ordered 
Hercules to retrieve the belt as his ninth labour. 

Taking a band of friends with him, Hercules set sail, stopping at the island of 
Paros, which was inhabited by some of Minos' sons. These killed two of 
Hercules' companions, an act which set Hercules on a rampage. He killed two of 
Minos' sons and threatened the other inhabitants until he was offered two men to 
replace his fallen companions. Hercules agreed and took two of Minos' 
grandsons, Alcaeus and Sthenelus. They continued their voyage and landed at the 
court of Lycus, whom Hercules defended in a battle against the king of the 
Bebryces, Mygdon. After killing King Mygdon, Hercules gave much of the land 
to his friend Lycus. Lycus called the land Heraclea. The crew then set off for 
Themiscyra where Hippolyte lived. 

Hercules obtaining the belt of 

Hippolyta, by J.M. Felix Magdalena 

(b. 1941) 

All would have gone well for Hercules had it not been for Hera. Hippolyte, 

impressed with Hercules and his exploits, agreed to give him the belt and would have done so had Hera not disguised 
herself and walked among the Amazons sowing seeds of distrust. She claimed the strangers were plotting to carry off 
the queen of the Amazons. Alarmed, the women set off on horseback to confront Hercules. When Hercules saw 
them, he thought Hippolyte had been plotting such treachery all along and had never meant to hand over the belt, so 
he killed her and took the belt, returning to Eurystheus. Eurystheus, shocked that Hercules survived his encounter 
with the Amazons, immediately sent him to capture the cattle of Geyron. 

Labours of Hercules 


Tenth Labour: Cattle of Geryon 


In the fullest account in the Bibliotheke of Pseudo-Apollodoros, 
Heracles was required to travel to the far-off western Mediterranean 
island of Erytheia, in order to obtain the Cattle of Geryon as his tenth 
labour. On the way there, he crossed the Libyan desert and became 
so frustrated at the heat that he shot an arrow at Helios, the Sun. Helios 
"in admiration of his courage" gave Hercules the golden cup he used to 
sail across the sea from west to east each night. Hercules used it to 
reach Erytheia, a favorite motif of the vase-painters. Such a magical 
conveyance undercuts any literal geography for Erytheia, the "red 
island" of the sunset. 

Heracles fighting Geryon (amphora, Painter of 
Munich, 540 BC) 

When Hercules reached Erytheia, no sooner had he landed than he was 

confronted by the two-headed dog, Orthrus. With one huge blow from 

his olive-wood club, Heracles killed the watchdog. Eurytion the herdsman came to assist Orthrus, but Hercules dealt 

with him the same way. 

On hearing the commotion, Geryon sprang into action, carrying three shields, three spears, and wearing three 
helmets. He pursued Hercules at the River Anthemus but fell victim to an arrow that had been dipped in the 
venomous blood of the Lernaean Hydra, shot so forcefully by Heracles that it pierced Geryon's forehead, "and 
Geryon bent his neck over to one side, like a poppy that spoils its delicate shapes, shedding its petals all at once". 

Hercules then had to herd the cattle back to Eurystheus. In Roman versions of the narrative, on the Aventine hill in 
Italy, Cacus stole some of the cattle as Heracles slept, making the cattle walk backwards so that they left no trail, a 
repetition of the trick of the young Hermes. According to some versions, Heracles drove his remaining cattle past a 
cave, where Cacus had hidden the stolen animals, and they began calling out to each other. In others, Caca, Cacus' 
sister, told Heracles where he was. Heracles then killed Cacus, and according to the Romans, founded an altar where 
the Forum Boarium, the cattle market, was later held. 

To annoy Hercules, Hera sent a gadfly to bite the cattle, irritate them and scatter them. The hero was within a year 
able to retrieve them. Hera then sent a flood which raised the level of a river so much, Heracles could not cross with 
the cattle. He piled stones into the river to make the water shallower. When he finally reached the court of 
Eurystheus, the cattle were sacrificed to Hera. 

Eleventh Labour: Apples of the Hesperides 

After Hercules completed his first ten Labours, Eurystheus gave him 
two more claiming that neither the Hydra counted (because Iolaus 
helped Hercules) nor the Augean stables (either because he received 
payment for the job or because the rivers did the work). The first of 

these two additional Labours was to steal the apples from the garden of 

the Hesperides. Hercules first caught the Old Man of the Sea, the 

shape-shifting sea god, to learn where the Garden of the Hesperides 

was located 


In some variations, Hercules, either at the start or at the end of his task, 
meets Antaeus, who was invincible as long as he touched his mother, 
Gaia, the earth. Hercules killed Antaeus by holding him aloft and 
crushing him in a bearhug. 

Hercules stealing the apples of the Hesperides 
(mosaic from Roman Spain, 3rd century CE) 

Labours of Hercules 


Herodotus claims that Hercules stopped in Egypt, where King Busiris decided to make him the yearly sacrifice, but 
Hercules burst out of his chains. 

Finally making his way to the Garden of the Hesperides, Hercules tricked Atlas into retrieving some of the golden 
apples for him, by offering to hold up the heavens for a little while (Atlas was able to take them as, in this version, he 
was the father or otherwise related to the Hesperides). This would have made this task — like the Hydra and Augean 
stables — void because he had received help. Upon his return, Atlas decided that he did not want to take the heavens 
back, and instead offered to deliver the apples himself, but Hercules tricked him again by agreeing to take his place 
on condition that Atlas relieve him temporarily so that Hercules could make his cloak more comfortable. Atlas 
agreed, but Hercules reneged and walked away, carrying the apples. According to an alternative version, Hercules 
slew Ladon, the dragon-like guardian of the apples, instead. Furious that Hercules had accomplished something that 
Eurystheus thought could not possibly be done, he sent Hercules off to his final task, the capture of Cerberus, the 
three-headed guardian hound of the gates of the Underworld. 

Hercules capturing Cerberus (1545), by Sebald Beham 

Twelfth Labour: Cerberus 

Capturing Cerberus alive, without using weapons, was the 
final labour assigned to Hercules by Eurystheus, in 
recompense for the killing of his own children by Megara 
after he was driven insane by Hera, and therefore was the 
most dangerous and difficult. 

After having been given the task, Hercules went to Eleusis to 
be initiated in the Eleusinian Mysteries so that he could learn 
how to enter and exit the underworld alive, and in passing 
absolve himself for killing centaurs. He found the entrance to 
the underworld at Tanaerum, and Athena and Hermes helped 
him to traverse the entrance in each direction. He passed 
Charon with Hestia's assistance and his own heavy and fierce 

Whilst in the underworld, Hercules met Theseus and Pirithous. The two companions had been imprisoned by Hades 
for attempting to kidnap Persephone. One tradition tells of snakes coiling around their legs then turning into stone; 
another that Hades feigned hospitality and prepared a feast inviting them to sit. They unknowingly sat in chairs of 
forgetfulness and were permanently ensnared. When Hercules had pulled Theseus first from his chair, some of his 
thigh stuck to it (this explains the supposedly lean thighs of Athenians), but the earth shook at the attempt to liberate 
Pirithous, whose desire to have the wife of a god for himself was so insulting he was doomed to stay behind. 

Hercules found Hades and asked permission to bring Cerberus to the surface, which Hades agreed to if Hercules 
could overpower the beast without using weapons. Heracles was able to overpower Cerberus and proceeded to sling 
the beast over his back, dragging it out of the underworld through a cavern entrance in the Peloponnese and bringing 
it to Eurystheus. The king was so frightened of the beast that he jumped into a pithos, and asked Hercules to return it 
to the underworld in return for releasing him from his labors. 

As a reward for finishing these twelve treacherous tasks, Hercules was given the gift of immortality after his death 
by his father Zeus. Hera forgave him and gave him her daughter Hebe for his bride. 

Labours of Hercules 141 


[I] According to Walter Burkert. 

[2] Ruck, Carl; Danny Staples (1994). The World of Classical Myth. Durham, NC, USA: Carolina Academic Press, pp. 169. 

[3] Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke 2.5.1-2.5.12. 

[4] Kerenyi, The Heroes of the Greeks(angelo) 1959:144. 

[5] Strabo, viii.3.19, Pausanias, v.5.9; Grimal 1987:219. 

[6] Pindar. The Extant Odes of Pindar (, Project Gutenberg. 

[7] Bibliotheca 2.5.7 

[8] Horse madness (hippomania) and hippophobia, Yiannis G. Papakostas, Michael D. Daras, Ioannis A. Liappas and Manolis Markianos, 

History of Psychiatry 2005; 16; 467 
[9] Pseudo-Apollodorus. Bibliotheke, 2.5.10. 
[10] Libya was the generic name for North Africa to the Greeks. 

[II] Stesichorus, fragment, translated by Denys Page. 

[12] Kerenyi, The Heroes of the Greeks, 1959, p. 172, identifies him in this context as Nereus; as a shape-shifter he is often identified as Proteus. 
[13] In some versions of the tale, Hercules was directed to ask Prometheus. As payment, he freed Prometheus from his daily torture. This tale is 

more usually found in the position of the Erymanthian Boar, since it is associated with Chiron choosing to forgo immortality and taking 

Prometheus' place. 
[14] Apollodorus ii. 5; Hyginus, Fab. 31 

• Burkert, Walter (1985). Greek Religion. Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard University Press. 

External links 

• Labors of Heracles ( at the Livius Picture Archive 

• The Labors of Hercules ( at the Perseus Digital Library 

Nemean lion 


Nemean lion 

Nemean lion 

Hercules slaying the Nemean lion. Detail of a Roman mosaic from Lli'ria (Spain). 



Greek mythology 
Legendary creature 


The Nemean lion (Greek: Asrov xfj^ NEuiac; (Leon tes Neme'as); Latin: Leo Nemaeus) was a vicious monster in 
Greek mythology that lived at Nemea. It was eventually killed by Heracles. It could not be killed with mortal 
weapons because its golden fur was impervious to attack. Its claws were sharper than mortal swords and could cut 
through any armor. 

The lion is usually considered to have been the offspring of Typhon (or Orthrus) and Echidna; it is also said to 
have fallen from the moon as the offspring of Zeus and Selene, or alternatively born of the Chimera. The Nemean 
lion was sent to Nemea in the Peloponnesus to terrorize the city. 

The First Labor of Heracles 

The first of Heracles' twelve labours, set by King Eurystheus (his cousin) was to slay the Nemean lion. 

According to one version of the myth, the Nemean lion took women as hostages to its lair in a cave near Nemea, 
luring warriors from nearby towns to save the damsel in distress. After entering the cave, the warrior would see the 
woman (usually feigning injury) and rush to her side. Once he was close, the woman would turn into a lion and kill 
the warrior, devouring his remains and giving the bones to Hades. 

Heracles wandered the area until he came to the town of Cleonae. There he met a boy who said that if Heracles slew 
the Nemean lion and returned alive within 30 days, the town would sacrifice a lion to Zeus; but if he did not return 
within 30 days or he died, the boy would sacrifice himself to Zeus. Another version claims that he met Molorchos, 
a shepherd who had lost his son to the lion, saying that if he came back within 30 days, a ram would be sacrificed to 
Zeus. If he did not return within 30 days, it would be sacrificed to the dead Heracles as a mourning offering. 

While searching for the lion, Heracles fetched some arrows to use against it, not knowing that its golden fur was 
impenetrable; when he found and shot the lion and firing at it with his bow, he discovered the fur's protective 
property when the arrow bounced harmlessly off the creature's thigh. After some time, Heracles made the lion return 
to his cave. The cave had two entrances, one of which Heracles blocked; he then entered the other. In those dark and 
close quarters, Heracles stunned the beast with his club and, using his immense strength, strangled it to death. During 

Nemean lion 


the fight the lion bit off one of his fingers. Others say that he shot arrows at it, eventually shooting it in the 
unarmored mouth. After slaying the lion, he tried to skin it with a knife from his belt, but failed. He then tried 
sharpening the knife with a stone and even tried with the stone itself. Finally, Athena, noticing the hero's plight, told 
Heracles to use one of the lion's own claws to skin the pelt. Others say that Heracles' armor was, in fact, the hide of 
the lion of Cithaeron. 

When he returned on the thirtieth day carrying the carcass of the lion on his shoulders, King Eurystheus was amazed 
and terrified. Eurystheus forbade him ever again to enter the city; in future he was to display the fruits of his labours 
outside the city gates. Eurystheus warned him that the tasks set for him would become increasingly difficult. He then 
sent Heracles off to complete his next quest, which was to destroy the Lernaean hydra. The Nemean lion's coat was 
impervious to the elements and all but the most powerful weapons. 

Heracles and the lion in art 

520-500 BC, 
from Vulci 

Gandhara, India, 1st century 

Roman-era relief, 
2nd century 

Renaissance plaque 

by Galeazzo 


Painting by Francisco de 
Zurbaran (1634) 

Marble by J.M. Felix Magdalena 
(b. 1941) 


[1] Apollodorus, Library 2.5.1 (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Apollod. 2. 5. l&lang=original) 

[2] Hesiod, Theogony "ill (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Hes.+Th.+327&fromdoc=Perseus:text: 1999.01.0130) 


• Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Heracles or 
Hercules" (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0104:entry=heracles-bio-l& 

Lernaean Hydra 


Lernaean Hydra 

Lernaean Hydra 

Animal. mdulcib.aquisOrdo II. 565 


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Ua>r.'1imber em evpnplrr tdtpel |epi. 

The 16th-century German illustrator has been influenced by the Beast of Revelation in his depiction of the Hydra. 




Greek mythology 

Legendary creature 
Serpent-like water spirit 

Typhon & Echidna 

In Greek mythology, the Lernaean Hydra (Ancient Greek: AspvaLa "T6pa) was an ancient nameless serpent-like 
chthonic water beast, with reptilian traits, (as its name evinces) that possessed many heads — the poets mention 
more heads than the vase-painters could paint, and for each head cut off it grew two more — and poisonous breath 
so virulent even her tracks were deadly. The Hydra of Lerna was killed by Heracles as the second of his Twelve 
Labours. Its lair was the lake of Lerna in the Argolid, though archaeology has borne out the myth that the sacred site 
was older even than the Mycenaean city of Argos since Lerna was the site of the myth of the Danaids. Beneath the 
waters was an entrance to the Underworld, and the Hydra was its guardian 


The Hydra was the offspring of Typhon and Echidna (Theogony, 313), both of whom were noisome offspring of the 
earth goddess Gaia. 

The Second Labour of Heracles 

After slaying the Nemean lion, Eurystheus sent Heracles to slay the Hydra, which Hera had raised just to slay 
Heracles. Upon reaching the swamp near Lake Lerna, where the Hydra dwelt, Heracles covered his mouth and nose 
with a cloth to protect himself from the poisonous fumes. He fired flaming arrows into the Hydra's lair, the spring of 
Amymone, a deep cave that it only came out of to terrorize neighboring villages. He then confronted the Hydra, 
wielding a harvesting sickle (according to some early vase-paintings), a sword or his famed club. Ruck and Staples 
(1994: 170) have pointed out that the chthonic creature's reaction was botanical: upon cutting off each of its heads he 
found that two grew back, an expression of the hopelessness of such a struggle for any but the hero. The weakness of 
the Hydra was that it was invulnerable only if it retained at least one head. 

Lernaean Hydra 


Hercules and the Hydra, (c. 1475) by 

Antonio Pollaiuolo (Galleria degli 


The details of the struggle are explicit in the Bibliotheca (2.5.2): realizing that he 
could not defeat the Hydra in this way, Heracles called on his nephew Iolaus for 
help. His nephew then came upon the idea (possibly inspired by Athena) of using 
a firebrand to scorch the neck stumps after each decapitation. Heracles cut off 
each head and Iolaus cauterized the open stumps. Seeing that Heracles was 
winning the struggle, Hera sent a large crab to distract him. He crushed it under 
his mighty foot. The Hydra's one immortal head was cut off with a golden sword 
given to him by Athena. Heracles placed it under a great rock on the sacred way 
between Lerna and Elaius (Kerenyi 1959:144), and dipped his arrows in the 
Hydra's poisonous blood, and so his second task was complete. The alternative 
version of this myth is that after cutting off one head he then dipped his sword in 
it and used its venom to burn each head so it couldn't grow back. Hera, upset that 
Heracles slew the beast she raised to kill him, placed it in the dark blue vault of 
the sky as the Constellation Hydra. She then turned the crab into the 
Constellation Cancer. 

Heracles later used an arrow dipped in the Hydra's poisonous blood to kill the centaur Nessus; and Nessus's tainted 
blood was applied to the Tunic of Nessus, by which the centaur had his posthumous revenge. Both Strabo and 
Pausanias report that the stench of the river Anigrus in Elis, making all the fish of the river inedible, was reputed to 
be due to the Hydra's poison, washed from the arrows Heracles used on the centaur 


When Eurystheus, the agent of ancient Hera who was assigning The Twelve Labors to Heracles, found out that it 
was Heracles' nephew Iolaus who had handed him the firebrand, he declared that the labor had not been completed 
alone and as a result did not count towards the ten labours set for him. The mythic element is an equivocating 
attempt to resolve the submerged conflict between an ancient ten Labours and a more recent twelve. 

Hercules and the hydra in art 

Caeretan black-figure hydria 
(ca. 525 BC) 

Mosaic from Roman Spain 
(201-250 AD) 

Silver sculpture 

Engraving (1545) by Hans 
Sebald Beham 

Lernaean Hydra 



Mythographers relate that the Lernaean Hydra and the crab were put into the sky 
after Heracles slew them. In an alternative version, Hera's crab was at the site to 
bite his feet and bother him, hoping to cause his death. Hera set it in the Zodiac 
to follow the Lion (Eratosthenes, Catasterismi). When the sun is in the sign of 
Cancer, the crab, the constellation Hydra has its head nearby. 

Popular culture 

• Hydra (film), a 2009 low-budget monster movie 

• Jason and the Argonauts (film), a 1963 film featuring a battle between Jason 
and a Hydra. 


Henry IV as Hercules vanquishing 

the Lernaean Hydra (i.e. the Catholic 

League), workshop of Toussaint 

Dubreuil, ca.1600 

[1] "This monster was so poisonous that she killed men with her breath, and if anyone passed by 

when she was sleeping, he breathed her tracks and died in the greatest torment." (Hyginus, 30). 
[2] Kerenyi (1959), 143. 
[3] For other chthonic monsters said in various sources to be ancient offspring of Hera, the Nemean Lion, the Stymphalian birds, the Chimaera, 

and Cerberus. 
[4] Kerenyi, The Heroes of the Greefcv(angelo) 1959:144. 
[5] Strabo, viii.3.19, Pausanias, v.5.9; Grimal 1987:219. 


• Harrison, Jane Ellen (1903). Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion. 

• Graves, Robert (1955). The Greek Myths. 

• Kerenyi, Carl (1959). The Heroes of the Greeks. 

• Burkert, Walter (1985). Greek Religion. Harvard University Press. 

• Ruck, Carl and Staples, Danny (1994). The World of Classical Myth. 

• Grimal, Pierre (1986). The Dictionary of Classical Mythology. E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc. 

External links 

• Statue of the Hydra battling Hercules at the Louvre ( 

Ceryneian Hind 


Ceryneian Hind 

Ceryneian Hind 

AKA: Cerynitis 

Heracles breaking off the golden antler of the Ceryneian Hind, while Athena (left) and Artemis look on (black-figure amphora, ca. 540—30 BC) 


Greek mythology 
Legendary creature 


Keryneia, Greece 

In Greek mythology, the Ceryneian Hind (Greek: f] KEpuvlTu; eXacpoq), also called Cerynitis, was an enormous 
hind (deer), who lived in Keryneia, Greece. It was sacred to Artemis, the chaste goddess of the hunt, animals and 
unmarried women. It had golden antlers like a stag and hooves of bronze or brass, and it was said that it could outrun 
an arrow in flight. The capture of the hind was one of the labors of Heracles (Hercules). 

The Third Labor of Heracles 

Eurystheus and Hera were greatly angered to find that Heracles had managed to escape from the claws of the 
Nemean Lion and the fangs of the Lernaean Hydra, and so decided to spend more time thinking up a third task that 
would spell doom for the hero. The third task did not involve killing a beast, as it had already been established that 
Heracles could overcome even the most fearsome opponents, so Eurystheus decided to make him capture the 
Ceryneian Hind, as it was so fast it could outrun an arrow. 

After beginning the search, Heracles awoke from sleeping and he could see the hind from the glint on its antlers. 
Heracles then chased the hind on foot for a full year through Greece, Thrace, Istria and the land of the Hyperboreans. 
In some versions, he captured the hind while it slept, rendering it lame with a trap net. In other versions, he 
encountered Artemis in her temple and she told him to leave the hind and tell Eurystheus all that had happened and 
his third labor would be considered to be completed. Yet another version claims that Heracles trapped the Hind with 
an arrow between the forelegs of the creature. 

Eurystheus had given Heracles this task hoping to incite Artemis' anger at Heracles for his desecration of her sacred 
animal. As he was returning with the hind, Heracles encountered Artemis and her brother Apollo. He begged the 
goddess for forgiveness, explaining that he had to catch it as part of his penance, but he promised to return it. 
Artemis forgave him, foiling Eurystheus' plan to have her punish him. 

Ceryneian Hind 


Heracles and Apollo struggling over the Hind, as depicted on 
a Corinthian helmet (early 5th century BC) 

Upon bringing the hind to Eurystheus, he was told that it was 
to become part of the King's menagerie. Heracles knew that 
he had to return the hind as he had promised, so he agreed to 
hand it over on the condition that Eurystheus himself come 
out and take it from him. The King came out, but the 
moment Heracles let the hind go, it sprinted back to its 
mistress, and Heracles left saying that Eurystheus had not 
been quick enough. Eurystheus, upset that Heracles had 
managed to overcome yet another creature, told him to bring 
the fearsome Erymanthian Boar back to him alive. 

Origin of the myth 

A doe bearing antlers was unknown in Greece, but the story 
of the hind is suggestive of reindeer, which, unlike other deer, can be harnessed and whose females bear antlers. The 
myth relates to the northern Hyperborea, which may have been the archaic origin of the myth itself, as Robert Graves 


When the sun is in the sign of Scorpio, the constellation Hercules rises. The Greeks referred to the constellation of 
Hercules as the Stag {hind is another word for doe), the identification of the constellation with Hercules was made by 
the Romans. 

The constellation Hercules is near the constellation Sagitta, the arrow, the owner of which varies amongst the various 
versions of each part of Greek mythology. Artemis (to whom the Ceryneian Hind was said to have been sacred, 
causing her to draw an arrow at Hercules, just like the constellation Sagittarius appears to be doing), is a key player 
in the myth discussing the origin of Scorpio and death of Orion, and so has an association with this area of sky. The 
direction of the arrow also makes it appear that the constellation Hercules (the stag) is trying to outrun it. 

In art 

Roman bronze, 1st 
century BC 

Roman-era bronze, 1 st— 2nd 
century AD 

Mosaic from Roman Spain, 
3rd century AD 

Statuette by J.M. Felix 
Magdalena (b. 1941) 

Erymanthian Boar 


Erymanthian Boar 

Erymanthian Boar 

Heracles, Eurystheus and the Erymanthian Boar. Side A from an Ancient Greek black-figured amphora, painted by Antimenes, ca. 525 BC, from 

Etruria. Louvre Museum, Paris. 


Greek mythology 
Legendary creature 



Mount Erymanthos 

In Greek mythology, the Erymanthian Boar (Greek: 6 'Epi>|.iav6LO<; 
Kajtpoq; Latin: aper Erymanthius) is remembered in connection with 
The Twelve Labours, in which Heracles, the (reconciled) enemy of 
Hera, visited in turn "all the other sites of the Goddess throughout the 
world, to conquer every conceivable 'monster' of nature and rededicate 
the primordial world to its new master, his Olympian father," Zeus 


In the primitive highlands of Arcadia, where old practices lingered, the 
Erymanthian Boar was a giant fear-inspiring creature of the wilds that 
lived on Mount Erymanthos, a mountain that was apparently once 
sacred to the Mistress of the Animals, for in classical times it remained 
the haunt of Artemis (Homer, Odyssey, VI. 105). A boar was a 
dangerous animal: "When the goddess turned a wrathful countenance 
upon a country, as in the story of Meleager, she would send a raging 


boar, which laid waste the farmers' fields." In some accounts, Apollo 

sent the boar to kill Adonis, a favorite of Aphrodite, as revenge for the 

goddess blinding Apollo's son Erymanthus when he saw her bathing. 

Robert Graves suggested that Aphrodite had been substituted for 

Artemis in this retelling of the mytheme of the eponymous 

Erymanthus. The most commonly accepted version, however, states that Ares turned himself into a boar and killed 

Adonis out of jealousy. 

Heracles and the Erymanthian Boar, by Louis 
Tuaillon, 1904 (Berlin Tierpark) 

Erymanthian Boar 150 

The Fourth Labour of Heracles 

Heracles' fourth labour — by some counts, for there is no single definitive telling — was to capture the Boar. On the 
way there, Hercules visited Pholus ("caveman"), a kind and hospitable centaur and old friend. Hercules ate with him 
in his cavern — though the centaur devoured his meat raw — and asked for wine. Pholus had only one jar of wine, a 
gift from Dionysus to all the centaurs on Mt. Erymanthos. Heracles convinced him to open it, and the smell attracted 
the other centaurs. They did not understand that wine needs to be tempered with water, became drunk, and attacked. 
Heracles shot at them with his poisonous arrows, and the centaurs retreated all the way to Chiron's cave. 

Pholus was curious why the arrows caused so much death, and picked one up but dropped it, and the arrow stabbed 
his foot, poisoning him. One version states that a stray arrow hit Chiron as well, but Chiron was immortal, although 
he still felt the pain. Chiron's pain was so great, he volunteered to give up his immortality, and take the place of 
Prometheus, who had been chained in to the top of a mountain to have his liver eaten daily by an eagle, although he 
was an immortal Titan. Prometheus' torturer, the eagle, continued its torture on Chiron, so Heracles shot it dead with 
an arrow. It is generally accepted that the tale was meant to show Heracles as being the recipient of Chiron's 
surrendered immortality. However, this tale contradicts the fact that Chiron later taught Achilles. The tale of the 
Centaurs sometimes appears in other parts of the twelve labours, as does the freeing of Prometheus. 

Heracles had visited Chiron to gain advice on how to catch the boar, and Chiron had told him to drive it into thick 
snow, which sets this Labour in mid-winter. Having successfully caught the Boar, Heracles bound it and carried it 
back to Eurystheus, who was frightened of it and ducked down in his half-buried storage pithos, begging Heracles to 
get rid of the beast, a favorite subject for the vase-painters. Heracles obliged. Roger Lancelyn Green states in his 
Tales of the Greek Heroes that Heracles threw it in the sea. It then swam to Italy, where its tusks were preserved in 
the Temple of Apollo at Cumae. Three days later, Eurystheus, still trembling with fear, sent Heracles to clean the 
Augean stables. 

Aside from the boar that killed Adonis, the other most celebrated boar in Greek myth was the Calydonian boar, who 
was killed by Meleager. 


1] Ruck and Staples, p. 163. 
2] Kerenyi (1959), p. 149. 
3] Graves 1955,126.1. 

Graves, Robert, The Greek Myths 1955. 

Kerenyi, Karl, The Heroes of the Greeks 1959. 

Carl A. P. Ruck and Danny Staples, The World of Classical Myth, 1994. 

Ovid, Heroides 

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca ii.5.4ff 

Diodorus Siculus iv.12 

Apollonius of Rhodes i.l22ff 

Pausanias, Greece 

Erymanthian Boar 


External links 

• Greek Mountain Flora ( Erymanthos Jalbum/Mt Erymanthos Greece, 

• Theoi Project : Erymanthian Boar, Giant boar of Arcadia ( 


In Greek mythology, Augeas (or Augeias, /o:'d3i:es/, Ancient Greek: Avyeiac), whose name means "bright", was 

king of Elis and father of Epicaste. Some say that Augeas was one of the Argonauts 


He is best known for his stables, which housed the single greatest number of cattle in the country and had never been 
cleaned — until the time of the great hero Heracles. 

Augeas' lineage varies in the sources — he was said to be either the son of Helius and Nausidame, or of Eleios, king 
of Elis, and Nausidame, or of Poseidon, or of Phorbas and Hyrmine. His children were Epicaste, Phyleus, 
Agamede (who was the mother of Dictys by Poseidon), Agasthenes, and Eurytus. 

The fifth Labour of Heracles 

The fifth Labour of Heracles (Hercules in Latin) was to 
clean the Augean stables (pronunciation: /o:'d3i:en/). This 
assignment was intended to be both humiliating (rather 
than impressive, as had the previous labours) and 
impossible, since the livestock were divinely healthy 
(immortal) and therefore produced an enormous 
quantity of dung. These stables had not been cleaned in 
over 30 years, and over 1,000 cattle lived there. 
However, Heracles succeeded by rerouting the rivers 
Alpheus and Peneus to wash out the filth. 

Augeas was irate because he had promised Heracles 
one tenth of his cattle if the job was finished in one 
day. He refused to honour the agreement, and Heracles 
killed him after completing the tasks. Heracles gave his 
kingdom to Augeas' son Phyleus, who had been exiled 
for supporting Heracles against his father. 

According to the Odes of the poet Pindar, Heracles then founded the Olympic Games: 

the games which by the ancient tomb of Pelops the mighty Heracles founded, after that he slew Kleatos, Poseidon's godly son, and slew also 

Eurytos, that he might wrest from tyrannous Augeas against his will reward for service done. 

Heracles rerouting the rivers Alpheus and Peneus. Roman mosaic, 
3rd century AD. 

The success of this labour was ultimately discounted because the rushing waters had done the work of cleaning the 
stables and because Heracles was paid. Eurystheus, stating that Heracles still had seven Labours to do, then sent 
Heracles to defeat the Stymphalian Birds. 

Augeas 152 


[1] Hyginus. Fabulae, 14 ( 

[2] Hyginus. Fabulae, 14 ( 

[3] Pausanias. Description of Greece, 5.1.9 ( 

[4] Bibliotheca 2.88 ( 

[5] Apollodorus. The Library, 2.88 ( 

[6] Hyginus. Fabulae, 157 (http://www.theoi.eom/Text/HyginusFabulae4.html#157). 

[7] Pindar. The Extant Odes of Pindar (, Project Gutenberg. 

Stymphalian birds 


Stymphalian birds 

Stymphalian birds 

Heracles and the Stymphalian birds. Detail of a Roman mosaic from Lh'ria (Spain). 





Greek mythology 

Legendary creature 


Lake Stymphalia 

In Greek mythology, the Stymphalian birds (Greek: 2TU|i(pa}a5e(; 6pvL6s<;, Stymphalides ornithes) were 
man-eating birds with beaks of bronze and sharp metallic feathers they could launch at their victims, and were sacred 
to Ares, the god of war. Furthermore, their dung was highly toxic. They had migrated to Lake Stymphalia in Arcadia 
to escape a pack of wolves the Arabs set loose to kill them, and bred quickly and took over the countryside, 
destroying local crops, fruit trees and townspeople. 

The Sixth Labour of Heracles 

After cleaning the Augean Stables, Eurystheus sent Heracles to defeat the Stymphalian Birds. Heracles could not go 
too far into the swamp, for it would not support his weight. Athena, noticing the hero's plight, gave Heracles a rattle 
which Hephaestus had made especially for the occasion. Heracles shook the rattle and frightened the birds into the 
air. Heracles then shot many of them with his arrows. The rest flew far away, never to return. The Argonauts would 
later encounter them. Heracles then brought some of the birds he had killed to Eurystheus. He then sent Heracles to 
capture the Cretan Bull and bring it to him. 

Cretan Bull 


Cretan Bull 

Cretan Bull 

Heracles capturing the Cretan Bull. Detail of a Roman mosaic from Lli'ria (Spain). 



Similar creatures 

Greek mythology 
Legendary creature 



In Greek mythology, the Cretan Bull was either the bull that carried away Europa or the bull Pasiphae fell in love 
with, giving birth to the Minotaur. 


When the sun has reached the constellation of Taurus, it has passed over an area that the ancients referred to as the 
sea - the region from Capricorn to the region containing Aries. It was referred to as the sea due to the high 
concentration of constellations identified as sea creatures within it, Aries being identified as a golden flying ram who 
flew over the sea. Crete is in a direct line from the natural harbor of Argo, a direction which due the shape of Argo's 
harbor, and surrounding coastline, requires that all ships initially take this course. 

Apart from being a bull, Taurus contains a very bright and red star (Aldebaran), meaning that many took it to be evil. 
Some forms of Greek mythology associated the constellation with the tame white bull, in some versions Zeus in 
disguise, that seduced Europa and took her to Crete (Minos), whereas others associate it with the white bull that 
fathered the Minotaur. The Cretan Bull which fathered the Minotaur was originally calm and sent from Poseidon, but 
king Minos whom it was sent to fell out of favor with Poseidon, and so in some versions of the story, Poseidon made 
the bull angry. 

The myth of Poseidon sending the bull (which seduced Minos' wife) may simply be an earlier version of the myth of 
Zeus seducing Europa, as in earlier Mycenean times, Poseidon had significantly more importance than Zeus. The 
change of gods was due to the replacement of the Mycenean culture and religion, with a later one favoring Zeus. 
Poseidon and Zeus, which have the same etymological origin (Poseidon deriving from Posei-Deion which means 
Lord God, and Zeus deriving from Deus which also means God), may be the result of the parallel evolution of the 
same original god in separate cultures, one (Poseidon - who is also associated with horses) becoming associated 
more with the sea (due to change in the main source of trade), and thus eventually becoming noticeably different. 

Cretan Bull 


The Seventh Labour of Heracles 

Whistling merrily at his success so far, Heracles was then sent to 
capture the bull by Eurystheus as his seventh task. He sailed to Crete, 
whereupon the King, Minos, gave Heracles permission to take the bull 
away and offered him assistance, which Heracles denied because of 
pride, as it had been wreaking havoc on Crete by uprooting crops 
and leveling orchard walls. Heracles snuck up behind the bull and then 
used his hands to strangle it, and then shipped it back to Athens. 
Eurystheus, who hid in his pithos at first sight of the creature, wanted 
to sacrifice the bull to Hera, who hated Heracles. She refused the 
sacrifice because it reflected glory on Heracles. The bull was released 
and wandered into Marathon, becoming known as the Marathonian 
Bull. Theseus would later sacrifice the bull to Athena and/or Apollo. 
Eurystheus then sent Heracles to bring back the man-eating Mares of 

Capture by Theseus 

This is an engraving of Hercules performing one 
of his labors as he forces a bull to the ground. The 
engraving was created by B. Picart in 1731. 

Androgeus, a son of Minos and Pasiphae, competed in the games held 

by Aegeus, King of Athens. He won all the games, so angering Aegeus 

that he had the young man killed (some legends claim that he was sent to confront the Bull itself). Devastated, Minos 

went to war with Athens and won. As punishment, the Athenians had to send several youths every 9 years to be 

devoured by the Minotaur. 

Aegeus' own son, Theseus, set to try to capture the Bull. On the way to Marathon, Theseus sought shelter from a 
storm in the shack owned by an old lady named Hecale. She swore to make a sacrifice to Zeus if Theseus was 
successful in capturing the bull. Theseus did capture the bull, but when he returned to Hecale's hut, she was dead. 
Theseus built a deme in her honor. He then dragged the Bull to Athens where he sacrificed it. 

Theseus then went to Crete where he killed the Minotaur with the help of Minos' daughter Ariadne. 


[1] Bibliotheca 2.5.7 

Mares of Diomedes 


Mares of Diomedes 

Mares of Diomedes 

■ - - 

Heracles capturing the Mares of Diomedes. Roman mosaic, 3rd century AD 




Greek mythology 

Legendary creature 
Man-eating horses 


The Mares of Diomedes, also called the Mares of Thrace, were four man-eating horses in Greek mythology. 
Magnificent, wild, and uncontrollable, they belonged to the giant Diomedes (not to be confused with Diomedes, son 
of Tydeus), king of Thrace, a son of Ares and Cyrene who lived on the shores of the Black Sea. Bucephalus, 
Alexander the Great's horse was said to be descended from these mares. 

The Eighth Labour of Heracles 

After capturing the Cretan bull, Heracles was to steal the Mares. In one version of the story, Heracles brought a 
number of youths to help him. They took the mares and were chased by Diomedes and his men. 

Heracles was not aware that the horses, called Podagras (the fast), Lampon (the shining), Xanthos (the blond) and 
Deimos (the terrible), were kept tethered to a bronze manger because they were wild; their madness being attributed 
to an unnatural diet of human flesh. Some versions say that they expelled fire when they breathed. They were 
man-eating and uncontrollable, and Heracles left his favoured companion, Abderus, in charge of them while he 
fought Diomedes, and found out that the boy was eaten. In revenge, Heracles fed Diomedes to his own horses, then 
founded Abdera next to the boy's tomb. 

In another version, Heracles stayed awake so that he didn't have his throat cut by Diomedes in the night, and cut the 
chains binding the horses. Having scared the horses onto the high ground of a peninsula, Heracles quickly dug a 
trench through the peninsula, filling it with water, thus making it an island. When Diomedes arrived, Heracles killed 
him with an axe (the one used to dig the trench), and fed the body to the horses to calm them. 

Mares of Diomedes 


Both versions have eating make the horses calmer, and Heracles took the opportunity to bind their mouths shut, and 
easily took them back to King Eurystheus, who dedicated the horses to Hera. In some versions, they were allowed to 
roam freely around Argos, having become permanently calm, but in others, Eurystheus ordered the horses taken to 
Olympus to be sacrificed to Zeus, but Zeus refused them, and sent wolves, lions, and bears to kill them. Roger 
Lancelyn Green states in his Tales of the Greek Heroes that their descendants were used in the Trojan War. After the 
incident, Eurystheus sent Heracles to bring back Hippolyta's Girdle. 


[1] Horse madness (hippomania) and hippophobia, Yiannis G. Papakostas, Michael D. Daras, Ioannis A. Liappas and Manolis Markianos, 
History of Psychiatry 2005; 16; 467 

External links 

• 12 Labours (http://www.ancientgreece.eom/s/Heracles/12Labours) 


In Greek mythology, Hippoliyte or Hippolyte (\jx,noXvxr\) is the 
Amazonian queen who possessed a magical girdle she was given 
by her father Ares, the god of war. The girdle was a waist belt that 
signified her authority as queen of the Amazons. 

Hippolyta appears in the myth of Heracles. It was her girdle that 
Heracles was sent to retrieve for Admeta, the daughter of king 
Eurystheus, as his ninth labor. Most versions often begin by saying 
that Hippolyta was impressed with Heracles, and gave him the 
girdle without argument. 

There are many endings to the story of Hippolyte: in fact, some 
mythologists have suggested that, because of the many different 
endings, she represents several different figures. 

After Heracles obtained the girdle, Theseus, one of Heracles' 

companions (along with Sthenelus and Telamon), kidnapped 

Antiope, another sister of Hippolyta. The Amazons then attacked the party (because Heracles' enemy Hera had 

spread a vicious rumour that Heracles was there to attack them or to kidnap Hippolyta), but Heracles and Theseus 

escaped with the girdle and Antiope. According to one version, Heracles killed Hippolyta as they fled, which upset 

him as due to their earlier excellent rapport he would have wanted to marry Hippolyta. In order to rescue Antiope, 

the Amazons attacked Athens but failed, with Antiope dying in the onslaught in some versions. 

In some versions, it is not Antiope whom Theseus abducts, but Hippolyta herself. 

Some sources paint Theseus in a more favorable light, saying that Hippolyta was dead before he and Phaedra were 

Hippolyta 158 

Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night's Dream 

In William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Hippolyta is engaged to Theseus, the duke of Athens. 

In Act I, Scene 1 Hippolyta and Theseus discuss their fast-approaching wedding, which will take place under the 
new moon in four days. Theseus declares to Hippolyta that, although he "wooed her with his sword" (which probably 
occurred when Theseus met the queen of the Amazons in battle), he will wed her "with pomp, with triumph, and 
with revelling" and he promises to begin a celebration that will continue until the wedding (Li. 19). 

Hippolyta is then fairly absent in the play, appearing only with Theseus and very rarely speaking, and only then in an 
insignificant manner. This continues until Act V, scene I, in which she and Theseus discuss the preceding events, 
namely the magical romantic confusions that the Athenian youths report from the night before. While Theseus is 
skeptical about the veracity of their tale, Hippolyta questions whether they would all have the same story if the 
night's adventures were indeed imagined. Rather, she argues, the youths' agreement on the way the night's events 
unfolded proves that things occurred just as they say. This is close to her final significant contribution to the play. 

The fact that Hippolyta stands up to Theseus when she disagrees with him in Act V is extremely significant. In 
Shakespeare's time, it was common practice for the wife to be the submissive, silent partner in a relationship; this is 
the main theme of "The Taming of the Shrew". Hippolyta's role in her relationship with Theseus is indeed striking. 
Ellen Rogers of Madonna University delves further into the significance of Hippolyta's role in A Midsummer Night's 
Dream. She states that the play is unusual in its portrayal of strong women, perhaps the most extreme case being that 
of the Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta. In the Elizabethan age in which women are dependent on men, Hippolyta 
comes from a tribe of incredibly strong empowered women. Not only this, but she is the leader of this group in 
which men are actually dependent on the fearless women who protect them. 

Rogers argues that Shakespeare uses the character of Hippolyta to enlighten his audience, who probably had negative 
preconceptions about the Amazonian race. It is also worth considering that her statement of "I love not to see 
wretchedness o'er-charged" (5.1.89), and her subsequent compassionate behavior during the Mechanicals' 
performance (quite different from the behavior of the other nobles present) was a not-so-subtle indication of how 
Shakespeare may have preferred his own audiences to behave. 

As Louis Montrose notes: "Amazonian mythology seems symbolically to embody and to control a collective anxiety 
about the power of a female not only to dominate or reject the male but to create and destroy him." However, 
Hippolyta attracts Theseus with her feminine allure and charm, to such a degree that Theseus is completely smitten 
with her. Despite her forceful nature, she becomes the object of Theseus' passion. Rogers states that by marrying 
Hippolyta, Theseus is laying down his sword, "the weapon which gave him power and authority over her," and 
essentially surrendering to her. By the end of the play, Hippolyta has actually added to her power, becoming the 
queen of a new realm, Athens. 

Hippolyta also appears in The Two Noble Kinsmen, a play co-written by Shakespeare and John Fletcher 


[1] Montrose, Louis Adrian. A Midsummer Night's Dream and the Shaping Fantasies of Elizabethan Culture: Gender, Power, Form. Rewriting 

the Renaissance. Ed: Margaret Fergusun, Maureen Wuiling, Nancy Vickers. Chicago 1986: 65-87. 
[2] Rogers, Ellen. "Hippolyta in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. 




In Greek mythology, Geryon 
/'d3l9ri9n/ (Ancient Greek: Tiiptjcbv; 
genitive: T^pvovoc) son of Chrysaor 
and Callirrhoe and grandson of Medusa, 
was a fearsome giant who dwelt on the 
island Erytheia of the mythic 
Hesperides in the far west of the 
Mediterranean. A more literal-minded 
later generation of Greeks associated 
the region with Tartessos in southern 



Heracles fighting Geryon, amphora by the E Group, ca. 540 BC, Louvre 

Geryon was often described as a 
monster with human faces. According 
to Hesiod Geryon had one body and 
three heads, whereas the tradition 
followed by Aeschylus gave him three 


bodies. A lost description by 

Stesichoros said that he has six hands 

and six feet and is winged; there are some mid-sixth-century Chalcidian vases portraying Geryon as winged. Some 

accounts state that he had six legs as well while others state that the three bodies were joined to one pair of legs. 

Apart from these bizarre features, his appearance was that of a warrior. He owned a two-headed hound named 

Orthrus, which was the brother of Cerberus, and a herd of magnificent red cattle that were guarded by Orthrus, and a 

herder Eurytion, son of Erytheia. 

The Tenth Labour of Heracles 


In the fullest account in the Bibliotheke of Pseudo-Apollodoros, Heracles was required to travel to Erytheia, in 


order to obtain the Cattle of Geryon as his tenth labour. On the way there, he crossed the Libyan desert and 
became so frustrated at the heat that he shot an arrow at Helios, the Sun. Helios "in admiration of his courage" gave 
Heracles the golden cup he used to sail across the sea from west to east each night. Heracles used it to reach 
Erytheia, a favorite motif of the vase-painters. Such a magical conveyance undercuts any literal geography for 
Erytheia, the "red island" of the sunset. 

When Heracles reached Erytheia, no sooner had he landed than he was confronted by the two-headed dog, Orthrus. 
With one huge blow from his olive-wood club, Heracles killed the watchdog. Eurytion the herdsman came to assist 
Orthrus, but Heracles dealt with him the same way. 

On hearing the commotion, Geryon sprang into action, carrying three shields, three spears, and wearing three 
helmets. He pursued Heracles at the River Anthemus but fell victim to an arrow that had been dipped in the 
venomous blood of the Lernaean Hydra, shot so forcefully by Heracles that it pierced Geryon's forehead, "and 
Geryon bent his neck over to one side, like a poppy that spoils its delicate shapes, shedding its petals all at once". 

Heracles then had to herd the cattle back to Eurystheus. In Roman versions of the narrative, on the Aventine hill in 
Italy, Cacus stole some of the cattle as Heracles slept, making the cattle walk backwards so that they left no trail, a 
repetition of the trick of the young Hermes. According to some versions, Heracles drove his remaining cattle past a 
cave, where Cacus had hidden the stolen animals, and they began calling out to each other. In others, Caca, Cacus' 
sister, told Heracles where he was. Heracles then killed Cacus, and according to the Romans, founded an altar where 



the Forum Boarium, the cattle market, was later held. 

To annoy Heracles, Hera sent a gadfly to bite the cattle, irritate them and scatter them. The hero was within a year 
able to retrieve them. Hera then sent a flood which raised the level of a river so much, Heracles could not cross with 
the cattle. He piled stones into the river to make the water shallower. When he finally reached the court of 
Eurystheus, the cattle were sacrificed to Hera. 

In the Aeneid, Vergil may have based the triple-souled figure of Erulus, king of Praeneste, on Geryon. The 

Herculean Sarcophagus of Genzano features a three headed representation of Geryon 


Stesichorus' Geryone'is 

The poet Stesichorus wrote a song of Geryon {rnovovntg — Geryone'is) in the sixth century BC, which was 
apparently the source of this section in Bibliotheke; it contains the first reference to Tartessus. From the fragmentary 


papyri found at Oxyrhyncus it is possible (although there is no evidence) that Stesichorus inserted a character, 
Menoites, who reported the theft of the cattle to Geryon. Geryon then had an interview with his mother Callirrhoe, 
who begged him not to confront Heracles. They appear to have expressed some doubt as to whether Geryon would 
prove to be immortal. The gods met in council, where Athena warned Poseidon that she would protect Heracles 
against Poseidon's grandson Geryon. Denys Page observes that the increase in representation of the Geryon episode 
in vase-paintings increased from the mid-sixth century and suggests that Stesichorus' Geryone'is provided the 

The fragments are sufficient to show that the poem was composed in twenty-six line triads, of strophe, antistrophe 
and epode, repeated in columns along the original scroll, facts that aided Page in placing many of the fragments, 
sometimes of no more than a word, in what he believed to be their proper positions. 

The Inferno 

In the Inferno, the first part of Italian poet Dante's Divine Comedy 
epic, Geryon has become the Monster of Fraud, a winged beast 

with the face of an honest man, the paws of a lion, the body of a 

wyvern, and a poisonous sting at the tip of his tail. He dwells 

somewhere in the depths below the cliff between the seventh and 

eighth circles of Hell (the circles of violence and simple fraud, 

respectively); Geryon rises from the pit at Virgil's call and bears 

the Poets to the eighth circle. To Dante's horror, the Poets ride on 

Geryon's back, and he slowly glides around and around the 

waterfall of the Phlegethon down the great depths to the Circle of 



[1] Also Tr|pu6vr|(; and Tr|puov£iJ(; (Geryones and Geryoneus). 

[2] The early third-century Life of Apollonius ofTyana notes an ancient tumulus at 

Gades raised over Geryon as for a Hellenic hero: "They say that they saw trees 

here such as are not found elsewhere upon the earth; and that these were called the trees of Geryon. There were two of them, and they grew 

upon the mound raised over Geryon: they were a cross between the pitch tree and the pine, and formed a third species; and blood dripped from 

their bark, just as gold does from the Heliad poplar" (v. 5). 
[3] Hesiod, Theogony "the triple-headed Geryon". 
[4] Aeschylus, Agamemnon: "Or if he had died as often as reports claimed, then truly he might have had three bodies, a second Geryon, and have 

boasted of having taken on him a triple cloak of earth, one death for each different shape." 

A Gustave Dore wood engraving of Geryon for Dante's 



[5] Scholiast on Hesiod's Theogony, referring to Stesichoros' Geryoneis ( noted at TheoiProject ( 

GiganteGeryon. html)) . 
[6] Erytheia, "sunset goddess" and nymph of the island that has her name, is one of the Hesperides. 
[7] Pseudo-Apollodorus. Bibliotheke, 2.5.10. 
[8] Libya was the generic name for North Africa to the Greeks. 
[9] Stesichorus, fragment, translated by Denys Page. 
[10] P.T. Eden, A Commentary on Virgil: Aeneid VII (Brill, 1975), p. 155 online. (http://books. google. com/books?id=B7cfAAAAIAAJ& 


as_maxm_is=0&as_maxy_is=&num=100&as_brr=3&cd=4#v=onepage&q=Erulus Aeneid OR Vergil OR Virgil OR Evander&f=false) 
[11] Signes graves sur les eglises de VEure et du Calvados by Asger Jorn, Volume II of the Biblioteheque Alexandrie, published by the 

Scandinavian Institute of Comparative Vandalism, 1964, pi 98 
[12] Denys Page 1973:138-154 gives the fragmentary Greek and pieces together a translation by overlaying the fragments with the account in 

Bibliotheke. Additional details concerning Geryon follow Page's account. 
[13] Virgil's description sounds more like a manticore (a strange beast with a man's head, lion's body, scorpion's tail, and the occasional dragon 

wings in some depictions). 

Further reading 

• M.M. Davies, "Stesichoros' Geryoneis and its folk-tale origins". Classical quarterly NS 38, 1988, 277—290. 

• Anne Carson, Autobiography of Red. New York: Vintage Books, 1998. A modern retelling of Stesichoros' 

P. Curtis, Steschoros's Geryoneis, Brill, 2011. 

External links 

• Theoi Project — "Geryon" ( 


Greek deities 

Primordial deities 

Titans and Olympians 
Aquatic deities 

Chthonic deities 
Personified concepts 

Other deities 

Asclepius, god of 


Leto, mother of Apollo 

and Artemis 

Pan, shepherd god 














Hesperides 162 

• Hamadryads' Pegasides 





In Greek mythology, the Hesperides (Ancient Greek: 'Eojtepl6e<;) are nymphs who tend a blissful garden in a far 
western corner of the world, located near the Atlas mountains in North Africa at the edge of the encircling Oceanus, 
the world-ocean. 

According to the Sicilian Greek poet Stesichorus, in his poem the "Song of Geryon", and the Greek geographer 
Strabo, in his book Geographika (volume III), the Hesperides are in Tartessos, a location placed in the south of the 
Iberian peninsula. 

By Ancient Roman times, the garden of the Hesperides had lost its archaic place in religion and had dwindled to a 
poetic convention, in which form it was revived in Renaissance poetry, to refer both to the garden and to the nymphs 
that dwelt there. 


The name means originating from Hesperus, the evening star Venus, equivalent to vesper. 

The Nymphs of the Evening 

Ordinarily the Hesperides number three, like the other Greek triads (the Three Graces and the Moirai). "Since the 
Hesperides themselves are mere symbols of the gifts the apples embody, they cannot be actors in a human drama. 
Their abstract, interchangeable names are a symptom of their impersonality," Evelyn Harrison has observed. 
Nevertheless, among the names given to them, though never all at once, are Aegle ("dazzling light"), Arethusa, 
Erytheia (or Erytheis) and Hesperia (alternatively Hespereia, Hespere, Hespera, Hesperusa or Hesperethoosa). 
Lipara, Asterope and Chrysothemis are named in a Hesperide scene of the apotheosis of Heracles (romanised to 
Hercules) on a late fifth-century hydria by the Meidias Painter in London They are sometimes called the Western 
Maidens, the Daughters of Evening or Erythrai, and the "Sunset Goddesses", designations all apparently tied to their 
imagined location in the distant west. Hesperis is appropriately the personification of the evening (as Eos is of the 
dawn) and the Evening Star is Hesperus. In addition to their tending of the garden, they were said to have taken great 
pleasure in singing. 

They are sometimes portrayed as the evening daughters of Night (Nyx) either alone, or with Darkness (Erebus), 
in accord with the way Eos in the farthermost east, in Colchis, is the daughter of the titan Hyperion. Or they are 
listed as the daughters of Atlas, or of Zeus, and either Hesperius or Themis, or Phorcys and Ceto. 

Erytheia ("the red one") is one of the Hesperides. The name was applied to an island close to the coast of southern 
Hispania, which was the site of the original Punic colony of Gades (modern Cadiz). Pliny's Natural History (4.36) 
records of the island of Gades: "On the side which looks towards Spain, at about 100 paces distance, is another long 
island, three miles wide, on which the original city of Gades stood. By Ephorus and Philistides it is called Erythia, by 
Timaeus and Silenus Aphrodisias, and by the natives the Isle of Juno." The island was the seat of Geryon, who was 
overcome by Heracles. 



The Garden of the Hesperides by Frederick, Lord 
Leighton, 1892. 

The Garden of the Hesperides 

The Garden of the Hesperides is Hera's orchard in the west, 
where either a single tree or a grove of immortality-giving golden 
apples grew. The apples were planted from the fruited branches 
that Gaia gave to her as a wedding gift when Hera accepted Zeus. 
The Hesperides were given the task of tending to the grove, but 
occasionally plucked from it themselves. Not trusting them, Hera 
also placed in the garden a never-sleeping, hundred-headed dragon 
named Ladon as an additional safeguard. However, in the 
mythology surrounding the Judgement of Paris, the Goddess of 
Discord Eris managed to enter the garden, pluck a golden apple, 
inscribe it "To the most beautiful" (Ancient Greek: Kallistei) and 
roll it into the wedding party (which she had not been invited to), 
in effect causing the Trojan Wars. 

In later years it was thought that the "golden apples" might have actually been oranges, a fruit unknown to Europe 
and the Mediterranean before the Middle Ages. Under this assumption, the Greek botanical name chosen for all 
citrus species was Hesperidoeide ('EojtEpL6oEL6fj, "hesperidoids"). 

The Eleventh Labour of Heracles 

After Heracles completed his first ten Labours, Eurystheus gave him two more claiming that neither the Hydra 
counted (because Iolaus helped Heracles) nor the Augean stables (either because he received payment for the job or 
because the rivers did the work). The first of these two additional Labours was to steal the apples from the garden of 
the Hesperides. Heracles first caught the Old Man of the Sea, the shape-shifting sea god, to learn where the Garden 
of the Hesperides was located. 

In some variations, Heracles, either at the start or at the end of his task, meets Antaeus, who was invincible as long 
as he touched his mother, Gaia, the earth. Heracles killed Antaeus by holding him aloft and crushing him in a 

Herodotus claims that Heracles stopped in Egypt, where King Busiris decided to make him the yearly sacrifice, but 
Heracles burst out of his chains. 

Finally making his way to the Garden of the Hesperides, Heracles 
tricked Atlas into retrieving some of the golden apples for him, by 
offering to hold up the heavens for a little while (Atlas was able to 
take them as, in this version, he was the father or otherwise related to 
the Hesperides). This would have made this task — like the Hydra 
and Augean stables — void because he had received help. Upon his 
return, Atlas decided that he did not want to take the heavens back, 
and instead offered to deliver the apples himself, but Heracles 
tricked him again by agreeing to take his place on condition that 
Atlas relieve him temporarily so that Heracles could make his cloak 
more comfortable. Atlas agreed, but Heracles reneged and walked 
away, carrying the apples. According to an alternative version, 
Heracles slew Ladon instead. 

Hercules stealing the golden apples from the Garden 

of the Hesperides. Detail of a Twelve Labours 

Roman mosaic from Lh'ria, Spain (3rd century). 

Hesperides 164 

There is another variation to the story where Heracles was the only person to steal the apples, other than Perseus, 
although Athena later returned the apples to their rightful place in the garden. They are considered by some to be the 
same "apples of joy" that tempted Atalanta, as opposed to the "apple of discord" used by Eris to start a beauty contest 
on Olympus (which caused "The Siege of Troy"). 

On Attic pottery, especially from the late fifth century, Heracles is depicted sitting in bliss in the Gardens of the 
Hesperides, attended by the maidens. 

The Hesperides in the Renaissance 

With the revival of classical allusions in the Renaissance, the Hesperides returned to their prominent position, and 
the garden itself took on the name of its nymphs: Robert Greene wrote of "The fearful Dragon... that watched the 
garden called Hesperides". Shakespeare inserted the comically insistent rhyme "is not Love a Hercules, Still 
climbing trees in the Hesperides" in Love's Labours Lost (iv.iii) and John Milton mentioned the "ladies of the 
Hesperides" in Paradise Regained (ii.357). 'Hesperides' (published 1647) was the title of a collection of pastoral and 
religious verse by the Royalist poet Robert Herrick. 


[1] A confusion of the Garden of the Hesperides with an equally idyllic Arcadia is a modern one, conflating Sir Philip Sidney's Countess of 
Pembroke's Arcadia and Robert Herrick's Hesperides: both are viewed by Renaissance poets as oases of bliss, but they were not connected by 
the Greeks. The development of Arcadia as an imagined setting for pastoral is the contribution of Theocritus to Hellenistic culture: see 
Arcadia (utopia). 

[2] Evelyn B. Harrison, "Hesperides and Heroes: A Note on the Three-Figure Reliefs", Hesperia 33.1 (January 1964 pp. 76—82) pp 79—80. 

[3] Illustrated in Harrison 1964:plate 13. Beyond the group sits Hygeia, perhaps giving rise to a mistaken impression that there might be four 
Hesperides. Sometimes two of the three are represented with Heracles when the symmetry of a composition requires it, as in the so-called 
"Three-Figure Reliefs". A good survey of the Hesperides' representations on fourth-century vases is Dieter Metzler, Les representations dans 
la ceramique attique du IVe siecle (1951) pp 204—10. 

[4] Hesiod, Theogony 215 (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Hes.Th.215&lang=original) 

[5] Hyginus, Fabulae Preface (; Cicero De Natura Deorum 3.44 (http://www.perseus. 
tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:2007. 01. 0037:book=3:section=44) 

[6] Kerenyi, The Heroes of the Greeks, 1959, p. 172, identifies him in this context as Nereus; as a shape-shifter he is often identified as Proteus. 

[7] In some versions of the tale, Heracles was directed to ask Prometheus. As payment, he freed Prometheus from his daily torture. This tale is 
more usually found in the position of the Erymanthian Boar, since it is associated with Chiron choosing to forgo immortality and taking 
Prometheus' place. 

[8] Apollodorus ii. 5; Hyginus, Fab. 31 

[9] Greene, Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay (published 1594) 


• Grimal, Pierre, The Dictionary of Classical Mythology (http://books. google. com/books ?id=iOx6de8LUNAC& 
printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false), Wiley— Blackwell, 1996, 
ISBN 978-0-631-20102-1. "Hesperides" p. 213 ( 

• Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Hespe'rides" (http:/ 
/www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04.0 104:alphabetic+letter=H:entry+ 

group= 1 1 : entry =hesperides -bio- 1 ) 

Hesperides 165 

External links 

• The Theoi Project, "The Hesperides" ( 

• The Garden of the Hesperides' ( 
asp?venue=7&id=137) in the Lady Lever Art Gallery ( 

• JC Loudon on the Gardens of Hesperides (1835) ( 

history _of_garden_design_and_gardening/chapter_l_gardening_in_the_ancient_world/gardens_of_hesperides) 

• Ms. Julia Delphine Parkinson 





AKA: Kerberos 

Detail of sculpture of god Hades with Cerberus 



Greek mythology and Roman mythology 
Legendary creature 

Greece, Italy 

Cerberus ( 4 /'s3rb9i"9s/), or Kerberos, (Greek form: KsppEpoQ, 
Greek pronunciation: [ kerberos]) in Greek and Roman mythology, is a 
multi-headed hound (usually three-headed) which guards the 

gates of the Underworld, to prevent those who have crossed the river 
Styx from ever escaping. Cerberus featured in many works of ancient 
Greek and Roman literature and in works of both ancient and modern 
art and architecture, although the depiction and background 
surrounding Cerberus often differed across various works by different 
authors of the era. The most notable difference is the number of its 
heads: Most sources describe or depict three heads; others show it with 
two or even just one; a smaller number of sources show a variable number, sometimes as many as 50 or even 100. 




Cerberus guarding the entrance to the Royal 

Institute of Technology in Stockholm. 


Cerberus was the offspring of Echidna, a hybrid half-woman and half-serpent, and Typhon, a fire-breathing giant 
whom even the Greek gods feared. Its brother is Orthrus, always depicted as a two-headed hellhound. The 
common depiction of Cerberus in Greek mythology and art is as having three heads. In most works the three-heads 
each respectively see and represent the past, the present, and the future, while other sources suggest the heads 
represent birth, youth, and old age. Each of Cerberus' heads is said to have an appetite only for live meat and thus 
allow only the spirits of the dead to freely enter the underworld, but allow none to leave. Cerberus was always 

employed as Hades' loyal watchdog, and guarded the gates that granted access and exit to the underworld 




The Twelfth Labor of Heracles 

An ancient Etruscan vase from Caere (ca 525 BC) 

depicting Heracles presenting Cerberus to 


Capturing Cerberus, without using weapons, was the final labour 
assigned to Heracles (Hercules) by King Eurystheus, in recompense for 
the killing of his own children by Megara after he was driven insane by 
Hera, and therefore was the most dangerous and difficult. 

After having been given the task, Heracles went to Eleusis to be 
initiated in the Eleusinian Mysteries so that he could learn how to enter 
and exit the underworld alive, and in passing absolve himself for 
killing centaurs. He found the entrance to the underworld at Tanaerum, 
and Athena and Hermes helped him to traverse the entrance in each 
direction. He passed Charon with Hestia's assistance and his own 
heavy and fierce frowning. 

Whilst in the underworld, Heracles met Theseus and Pirithous. The 
two companions had been imprisoned by Hades for attempting to kidnap Persephone. One tradition tells of snakes 
coiling around their legs then turning into stone; another that Hades feigned hospitality and prepared a feast inviting 
them to sit. They unknowingly sat in chairs of forgetfulness and were permanently ensnared. When Heracles had 
pulled Theseus first from his chair, some of his thigh stuck to it (this explains the supposedly lean thighs of 
Athenians), but the earth shook at the attempt to liberate Pirithous, whose desire to have the wife of a god for himself 
was so insulting he was doomed to stay behind. 

Heracles found Hades and asked permission to bring Cerberus to the surface, which Hades agreed to if Heracles 
could overpower the beast without using weapons. Heracles was able to overpower Cerberus and proceeded to sling 
the beast over his back, dragging it out of the underworld through a cavern entrance in the Peloponnese and bringing 
it to Eurystheus. The king was so frightened of the beast that he jumped into a pithos, and asked Heracles to return it 
to the underworld in return for releasing him from his labors. 


Cerberus featured in many prominent works of Greek and Roman 
literature, most famously in Virgil's Aeneid, Peisandros of Rhodes' epic 
poem the Labours of Hercules, the story of Orpheus in Plato's 
Symposium, and in Homer's Iliad, which is the only known reference to 
one of Heracles' labours which first appeared in a literary source 


The depiction of Cerberus is relatively consistent between different 
works and authors, the common theme of the mane of serpents is kept 
across works, as is the serpent's tail, most literary works of the era 
describe Cerberus as having three heads with the only notable 

exception being Hesiod's Theogony in which he had 50 heads 


Cerberus, as illustrated by Gustave Dore in 
Dante's Divine Comedy. 

Most occurrences in ancient literature revolve around the basis of the threat of Cerberus being overcome to allow a 
living being access to the underworld; in the Aeneid Cerberus was lulled to sleep after being tricked into eating 
drugged honeycakes and Orpheus put the creature to sleep with his music. Capturing Cerberus alive was the twelfth 
and final labour of Heracles. In Dante Alighieri's Inferno, Canto VI, the "great worm" Cerberus is found in the Third 
Circle of Hell, where he oversees and rends to pieces those who have succumbed to gluttony, one of the seven 
deadly sins. 

In the constellation Cerberus introduced by Johannes Hevelius in 1687, Cerberus is sometimes substituted for the 


"branch from the tree of the golden apples" fetched by Atlas from the garden of the Hesperides. This branch is the 



literary source of the "golden bough" in the Aeneid by Virgil. 

In Paradise Lost 11.65, Cerberean hounds are mentioned in Hell: "A cry of Hell Hounds never ceasing bark'd With 
wide Cerberean mouths full loud". 


Numerous references to Cerberus have appeared in ancient Greek and 

Roman art, found in archaeological ruins and often including in 

statues and architecture, inspired by the mythology of the creature. 

Cerberus' depiction in ancient art is not as definitive as in literature; the 

poets and linguists of ancient Greece and Rome mostly agreed on the 

physical appearance (with the notable exception in Hesiod's Theogony 

in which he had 50 heads). His depiction in classical art mostly 

shows the recurring motif of serpents, but the number of heads 


differs. A statue in the Galleria Borghese depicts Cerberus with 

three heads sitting by the side of Hades, while a bronze sculpture 

depicting Heracles' twelfth labour shows the demi-god leading a two-headed Cerberus from the underworld. The 

majority of vases depicting the twelfth task also show Cerberus as having two heads. Classical critics have 

identified one of the earliest works of Cerberus as "the most imaginative," that being a Laconian vase created around 

560 BC in which Cerberus is shown with three-heads and with rows of serpents covering his body and heads. 





1/1 F l w 


_■___. fci m J -jB 

In this vase painting, Heracles leads a two-headed 
Cerberus out of Hades. 



There have been many attempts to explain the depiction of Cerberus. A 2nd century CE Greek known as Heraclitus 
the paradoxographer — not to be confused with the 5th century BCE Greek philosopher Heraclitus— claimed 
Euhemeristically that Cerberus had two pups which were never away from their father, as such Cerberus was in fact 

a normal (however very large) dog but artists incorporating the two pups into their work made it appear as if his two 

children were in fact extra heads. Classical historians have dismissed Heraclitus the paradoxographer's 

n 8i 
explanation as "feeble". Mythologers have speculated that if Cerberus was given his name in Trikarenos it could 

be interpreted as "three karenos". Certain experts believe that the monster was inspired by the golden jackal. 

In popular culture 

Further information: Greek mythology in popular culture#Cerberus 


[I] "Cerberus" ( Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Merriam-Webster. . Retrieved 

[2] Kip|3£po<;, Wiktionary ( This version (!DilDi 2 !uIDitID&oldid=2999429)) 

[3] "Yahoo! Deducation" ( . 

[4] "Cerberus definition - Dictionary - MSN Encarta" ( Cerberus definition - Dictionary - MSN 

Encarta. Archived from the original ( on 2009-10-31. . 
[5] "Hercules' Twelfth Labor: Cerberus" ( Perseus Project. . Retrieved 2008-10-21. 
[6] Bloomfield, Maurice (2003). Cerberus the Dog of Hades. Kessinger Publishing, p. 8. ISBN 0-7661-3020-7. 
[7] Allardice, Pamela (1991). Myths, Gods & Fantasy. ABC-CLIO. p. 52. ISBN 0-87436-660-7. 
[8] Guerber, Helene (2003). Myths of Greece and Rome. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 0-7661-4856-4. 

[9] Homer. "8". Iliad, p. 366-369 ( 
[10] Hesiod. Theogony. p. 310 (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text.jsp?doc=Perseus:text:1999. 01. 0130:card=310). 

[II] Dante. Divine Comedy Inferno, canto VI ( 

[12] "Ian Ridpath, "Star Tales"" ( . Retrieved 2012-07-07. 

Cerberus 169 

[13] Hegeler, Edward (1904). The Monist. Hegeler Institute, p. 524. 

[14] Bloomfield, Maurice (2003). "Cerberus in Classical Art". Cerberus the Dog of Hades. Kessinger Publishing, p. 3. ISBN 0-7661-3020-7. 

[15] Bloomfield, Maurice (2003). "Cerberus in Classical Art". Cerberus the Dog of Hades. Kessinger Publishing, p. 4. ISBN 0-7661-3020-7. 

[16] Lenardon, Robert; Mark Morford, Michael Sham (1997). A Companion to Classical Mythology. Oxford University Press. 

ISBN 0-19-514725-1. 

[17] Heraclitus. nsgl amormv. p. 331. 

[18] Bloomfield, Maurice (2003). Cerberus the Dog of Hades. Kessinger Publishing, p. 7. ISBN 0-7661-3020-7. 

[19] "Golden Jackal" ( . Retrieved 2007-08-15. 

The Argonauts 



Gathering of the Argonauts (?), Attic red-figure 
krater, 460^50 BC, Louvre (G 341) 

The Argonauts (Ancient Greek: ApyovaikaL, Argonautai; Georgian: 
6f ? >2 ) m6c>3(8)2in, Argonavtebi) were a band of heroes in Greek 
mythology who, in the years before the Trojan War, accompanied 
Jason to Colchis (ancient Georgian Kingdom) in his quest to find the 
Golden Fleece. Their name comes from their ship, the Argo, which was 
named after its builder, Argus. 'Argonauts", therefore, literally means 
"Argo sailors". They were sometimes called Minyans, after a 
prehistoric tribe of the area. 


After the death of King Cretheus, the Aeolian Pelias usurped the Iolcan 
throne from his half-brother Aeson and became king of Iolcus in 
Thessaly (near the modern city of Volos). Because of this unlawful act, 
an oracle warned him that a descendant of Aeolus would seek revenge. 
Pelias put to death every prominent descendant of Aeolus he could, but 
spared Aeson because of the pleas of their mother Tyro. Instead, Pelias 
kept Aeson prisoner and forced him to renounce his inheritance. Aeson 
married Alcimede, who bore him a son named Diomedes. Pelias 
intended to kill the baby at once, but Alcimede summoned her 
kinswomen to weep over him as if he were stillborn. She faked a burial 
and smuggled the baby to Mount Pelion. He was raised by the centaur 
Chiron, who changed the boy's name to Jason. 

When Jason was 20 years old, an oracle ordered him to dress as a 

Magnesian and head to the Iolcan court. While traveling Jason lost his 

sandal crossing the muddy Anavros river while helping an old woman (Hera in disguise). The goddess was angry 

with King Pelias for killing his stepmother Sidero after she had sought refuge in Hera's temple. 

Another oracle warned Pelias to be on his guard against a man with one shoe. Pelias was presiding over a sacrifice to 
Poseidon with several neighboring kings in attendance. Among the crowd stood a tall youth in leopard skin with only 
one sandal. Pelias recognized that Jason was his cousin. He could not kill him because prominent kings of the 
Aeolian family were present. Instead, he asked Jason: "What would you do if an oracle announced that one of your 
fellow-citizens were destined to kill you?". Jason replied that he would send him to go and fetch the Golden Fleece, 
not knowing that Hera had put those words in his mouth. 

Jason learned later that Pelias was being haunted by the ghost of Phrixus. Phrixus had fled from Orchomenus riding 
on a divine ram to avoid being sacrificed and took refuge in Colchis where he was later denied proper burial. 
According to an oracle, Iolcus would never prosper unless his ghost was taken back in a ship, together with the 
golden ram's fleece. This fleece now hung from a tree in the grove of the Colchian Ares, guarded night and day by a 
dragon that never slept. Pelias swore before Zeus that he would give up the throne at Jason's return while expecting 
that Jason's attempt to steal the Golden Fleece would be a fatal enterprise. However, Hera acted in Jason's favour 

Argonauts 171 

during the perilous journey. 

Jason was accompanied by some of the principal heroes of ancient Greece. The number of Argonauts varies, but 
usually totals between 40 and 55; traditional versions of the story place their number at 50. 

Some have hypothesized that the legend of the Golden Fleece was based on a practice of the Black Sea tribes; they 
would place a lamb's fleece at the bottom of a stream to entrap gold dust being washed down from upstream. This 
practice is still in use, particularly in the Svaneti region of Georgia. See Golden Fleece for other, more speculative 

The crew of the Argo 

There is no definite list of the Argonauts. The following list is collated from several lists given in ancient 


1. Acastus 

2. Actor (son of Hippas) 

3. Admetus 

4. Aethalides 

5. Amphiaraus 

6. Amphidamas 

7. Amphion (son of Hyperasius) 

8. Ancaeus 

9. Areius 

10. Argus (builder of Argo) 

1 1 . Argus (son of Phrixus) 

12. Ascalaphus 

13. Asclepius 

14. Asterion (son of Cometes) 

15. Asterius (brother of Amphion) 

16. Atalanta 

17. Augeas 

18. Autolycus, son of Deimachus 

19. Bellerophon 

20. Butes 

21. Calais (son of Boreas) 

22. Caeneus (son of Coronus) 

23. Canthus 

24. Castor (son of Zeus) 

25. Cepheus, King of Tegea 

26. Clytius (son of Eurytus) 

27. Coronus (son of Caeneus) 

28. Cytissorus 

29. Deucalion of Crete 

30. Echion 

3 1 . Eribotes 

32. Erginus (son of Poseidon) 

33. Erytus (brother of Echion) 

34. Euphemus 

35. Euryalus 

Argonauts 172 

36. Eurydamas 

37. Eurymedon (son of Dionysus) 

38. Eurytion 

39. Heracles (son of Zeus) 

40. Hippalcimus 

41. Hylas 

42. Idas 

43. Idmon 

44. Iolaus (nephew of Heracles) 

45. Iphitos 

46. Jason 

47. Laertes 

48. Laocoon (half-brother of Oeneus and tutor of Meleager) 

49. Leitus 

50. Leodocus 

51. Lynceus 

52. Medea 

53. Melas 

54. Meleager 

55. Menoetius 

56. Mopsus 

57. Nauplius 

58. Neleus (son of Poseidon) 

59. Nestor 

60. Oileus 

61. Orpheus 

62. Palaemon 

63. Palaimonius (son of Hephaestus) 

64. Peleus 

65. Peneleos 

66. Perseus 

67. Periclymenus 

68. Phalerus 

69. Phanus (brother of Staphylus and Eurymedon) 

70. Philoctetes 

7 1 . Phlias (son of Dionysus) 

72. Phocus 

73. Phrontis 

74. Poeas 

75. Prias (brother of Phocus) 

76. Pollux (son of Zeus) 

77. Polyphemus 

78. Staphylus 

79. Talaus 

80. Telamon 

8 1 . Thersanon (son of Helios and Leucothoe) 

82. Theseus 

Argonauts 173 

83. Tiphys 

84. Zetes (son of Boreas) 

Several more names are discoverable from other sources. Amyrus, eponym of a Thessalian city, is given by 


Stephanus of Byzantium as "one of the Argonauts"; he is otherwise said to have been a son of Poseidon and to 
have given his name to the river Amyrus. Azorus was the helmsman of Argo according to Hesychius of 
Alexandria; he could be the same as the Azorus mentioned by Stephanus as founder of the city Azorus in 

Notes to the list 


• Atalanta is included on the list by Pseudo-Apollodorus, but Apollonius claims that Jason forbade her because 
she was a woman and could cause strife in the otherwise all-male crew. Other sources state that she was asked, 
but refused. 


• Apollonius also claims that Theseus and Pirithous were trapped in Hades at the time and could not join. 

• Theseus being on the list is inconsistent with accounts of his life usually including him encountering Medea at an 
early stage of his adventures, yet many years after the Argonauts completed their adventure (Medea, by that time, 
was not only abandoned by Jason, but also bore a child from Aegeus). 

• Argus, Phrontis, Melas and Cytissorus, sons of Phrixus and Chalciope, joined the crew only after being rescued 
by the Argonauts: the four had been stranded on a desert island not far from Colchis, from where they initially 
sailed with an intent to reach their father's homeland. However, Argus is not to be confused with the other 
Argus, son of Arestor or Polybus, constructor and eponym of the ship Argo and member of the crew from the 

u • • [ 12 ] 


Adaptations of the myth 

The Life and Death of Jason (1867) by William Morris 

Hercules, My Shipmate (1945) by Robert Graves 

The Greek Myths by Robert Graves 

Jason and Medeia by John Gardner, a modern, epic poem in English. 

The Argonautica by Gaius Valerius Flaccus, a first-century AD Latin epic poem. 

The Argonautica by Apollonius of Rhodes, a Hellenistic, Greek epic poem. 

Despoiled Shore Medea Material Landscape with Argonauts (1982) — a play in the synthetic fragment form by 

Heiner Miiller 

In comics, outside of a comic book adaptation of the film Jason and the Argonauts published by Dell Comics in 

1963 as part of their Movie Classics series, there were 2 series that featured The Argonauts alongside Jason. The 


first was a 5 issue series published by Caliber Press in 1991, while the other was a series called Jason and the 

Argonauts: Kingdom of Hades, a 5 issue mini-series, published by Bluewater Comics in 2007. In 201 1, 

Campfire Books published a graphic novel called Jason and the Argonauts written by Dan Whitehead. 

The heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan is loosely based on a modern version of the story of Jason and the 

Argonauts. The myth is mentioned on several occasions. 

Argonauts 174 

Film and Television 

A Soviet cartoon called "The Argonauts" was made in 1971. 

Two movies titled Jason and the Argonauts have been made, and a film entitled Rise of the Argonauts is in 
production but is not an adaptation and will act as a prequel to the first film. This film will be released sometime in 
spring 20 1 1 . 

Jason and the Argonauts (1963), directed by Don Chaffey and featuring special effects by Ray Harryhausen, shows 
Jason hosting Olympics-like games and selecting his crew from among the winners. 

A Hallmark presentation TV movie, Jason and the Argonauts (2000), on the other hand, shows Jason having to settle 
for men with no sailing experience. This includes a thief who says "Who better than a thief to grab the Golden 

A movie titled "Becenaa xpoHHKa onacHoro nyTeiuecTBna" (Amusing Chronicle of a Dangerous Voyage) was made 
in the Soviet Union in 1986 starring a famous Russian actor Alexander Abdulov. (imdb ) 

The 1977 Doctor Who serial 'Underworld' is loosely based on the story of Jason and the Argonauts. 


British Rock group XTC recorded a song entitled Jason and the Argonauts, to be found on their album English 
Settlement (1982). 


In 2001, a radio drama adaptation of Apollonius' Argonautica was presented on the Radio Tales series for National 
Public Radio. 

Video games 

Jason and the Argo, along with a small number of the more legendary Argonauts and Greeks, were featured in the 
2008 video game Rise of the Argonauts 


[I] Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 1. 23 - 228 
[2] Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 9. 16 

[3] Hyginus, Fabulae, 14 

[4] Stephanus of Byzantium s. v. Amyros 

[5] Scholia on Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 1. 596. The Argonauts are reported to have sailed past this river by both Apollonius (1. 596) 

and Valerius Flaccus (2. 1 1) 
[6] Hesychius s. v. Azoros 
[7] Stephanus of Byzantium s. v. Azoros 
[8] Arg. 1. 770 
[9] Arg. 1. 100 
[10] Roger Lancelyn Green, in his Tales of the Greek Heroes, gets round this problem by suppressing the name of the witch-wife who Theseus 

encountered in his early life. 

[II] Arg. 2. 1193 

[12] Arg. 1. 112; Hyg. Fab. 14 





Argonauts 175 


• Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica I, 23—227 

• Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca I, ix, 16. 

• Ken Inglis, This is the ABC: The Australian Broadcasting Commission 1932—1983, 2006 

External links 

• Argonauts Information and Gallery ( 

• Definition of an "argonaut", ( 

• and the Argonauts ( php/Jason_and_the_Argonauts_(The_Argonautica)"Jason) 
Full English translation by R.C. Seaton 


Acastus ( 4 /e'kaestes/; Ancient Greek: Ak(xgto<;) is a character in Greek mythology. He sailed with Jason and the 
Argonauts, and participated in the hunt for the Calydonian Boar. 


Acastus was the son of Pelias, then king of Iolcus, and Anaxibia (Philomache in some traditions). 

After the return of the Argonauts, Acastus's sisters were seduced by Medea to cut their father Pelias in pieces and 
boil them. Acastus, when he heard this, buried his father, and drove Jason and Medea from Iolcus (and, according to 
Pausanias, his sisters also), and instituted funeral games in honor of his father. He thereafter became king of 


Acastus purified Peleus of the murder of King Eurytion of Phthia. Acastus's wife (variously named in mythology; 
often Astydamia, but sometimes Hippolyte, daughter of Cretheus) fell in love with Peleus but he scorned her. 

Bitter, she sent a messenger to Antigone, Peleus's wife and daughter of Eurytion, to tell her that Peleus was to marry 
Acastus's daughter, Steropes. 

Astydamia then told Acastus that Peleus had tried to rape her. Acastus took Peleus on a hunting trip and hid his 
sword while he slept, then abandoned him on Mt. Pelion to be killed by centaurs. The wise centaur Chiron (or the 
god Hermes) returned Peleus' sword and Peleus managed to escape. With Jason and the Dioscuri, Peleus sacked 
Iolcus, dismembered Astydamia (and, in some accounts, Acastus himself), and marched his army between the 
pieces. Their kingdom later fell to Jason's son Thessalus. 


Acastus and Astydameia had two daughters: Sterope (2tEp6:rcr|) and Laodamia, and a number of sons. Another 
daughter, Sthenele (20eveXt|), was given by the Bibliotheca as the wife of Menoetius and mother of Patroclus. 
Tzetzes (in his Prolegomena in Hesiodum) calls Arxippus a son of his. 


[1] Hornblower, Simon (1996). "Acastus". The Oxford Classical Dictionary . Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 3. 

[2] Pausanias vii. 1 1 

[3] Gaius Julius Hyginus Fabulae 24 and 273 ; Apollod. i. 9. § 27, &c; Pausanias iii. 18. § 9, vi. 20. § 9, v. 17. § 4 ; Ov. Met. xi. 409, &c. 

[4] Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology by William Smith (1867). 

[5] Apollod. iii. 13. § 2, &c; Pind. Nem. iv. 90, &c. 




This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Smith, William, ed. (1867) 


name needed,, 

Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. 


In Greek mythology, Admetus ( 4) /sed'mi:t9s/; Greek: A6|ir|TO<; Admetos, "untamed", "untameable") was a 

king of Pherae in Thessaly, succeeding his father Pheres after whom the city was named. Admetus was one of the 
Argonauts and took part in the Calydonian Boar hunt. His wife Alcestis offered to substitute her own death for his. 


Admetus was famed for his hospitality and justice. When Apollo was 
sentenced to a year of servitude to a mortal as punishment for killing 
Delphyne, or as later tradition has it, the Cyclops, the god chose 
Admetus' home and became his herdsman. Apollo in recompense for 
Admetus' treatment — the Hellenistic poet Callimachus of Alexandria 
makes him Apollo's eromenos — made all the cows bear twins while he 

served as his cowherd 


^fcr H, 


m. ^1 

1; J 

1 I 

/ N 


Etruscan vase depiction of the farewell of 
Admetus and Alcestis. 

Apollo also helped Admetus win the hand of Alcestis, the daughter of 

Pelias, king of Iolcus. Alcestis had so many suitors that Pelias set an 

apparently impossible task to the suitors — to win the hand of Alcestis, they must yoke a boar and a lion to a chariot. 

Apollo harnessed the yoke with the animals and Admetus drove the chariot to Pelias, and thus married Alcestis. 

Admetus, however, neglected to sacrifice to Artemis. The offended goddess filled the bridal chamber with snakes 
and again, Apollo came to Admetus' aid. Apollo advised Admetus to sacrifice to Artemis, and the goddess removed 
the snakes. 

The greatest aid Apollo gave to Admetus was persuading the Fates to reprieve Admetus of his fated day of death. 
According to Aeschylus Apollo made the Fates drunk, and the Fates agreed to reprieve Admetus if he could find 
someone to die in his place. Admetus initially believed that one of his aged parents would happily take their son's 
place of death. When they were unwilling, Alcestis instead died for Admetus. 

The scene of death is described in Euripides' play Alcestis, where Thanatos, the god of death, takes Alcestis to the 
Underworld. As Alcestis descends, Admetus discovers that he actually does not want to live: 

"I think my wife's fate is happier than my own, even though it may not seem so. No pain will ever touch her 
now, and she has ended life's many troubles with glory. But I, who have escaped my fate and ought not to be 
alive, shall now live out my life in sorrow." 

The situation was saved by Heracles, who rested at Pherae on his way towards the man-eating Mares of Diomedes. 
Heracles was greatly impressed by Admetus's kind treatment of him as a guest, and when told of Admetus' situation, 
he entered Alcestis' tomb. He repaid the honor Admetus had done to him by wrestling with Thanatos until the god 
agreed to release Alcestis, then led her back into the mortal world. The most famous of Admetus's children was 
Eumelus, who led a contingent from Pherae to fight in the Trojan War. He also had a daughter Perimele. 

Admetus 177 


[1] Robert Graves, The Greek Myths rev. ed. 1960 (index). 

[2] Karl Kerenyi, The Gods of the Greeks, 1951:138. 

[3] Callimachus, Hymn to Apollo. 

[4] Bibliotheke, 3.10.4. 

[5] Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke 1.9.15; Hyginus, Fabulae, 50 

[6] Aeschylus, Eumenides, 728. 

• March, J. Cassell's Dictionary Of Classical Mythology. London, 1999. ISBN 0-304-35 161-X 


Aethalides (Ancient Greek: Al0a}i6r|<;) was a son of Hermes and Eupolemeia, a daughter of Myrmidon. He was 
the herald of the Argonauts, and had received from his father the faculty of remembering everything, even in Hades. 
He was further allowed to reside alternately in the upper and in the lower world. As his soul could not forget 
anything even after death, it remembered that from the body of Aethalides it had successively migrated into those of 
Euphorbus, Hermotimus, Pyrrhus, and at last into that of Pythagoras, in whom it still retained the recollection of its 

t ■ t - [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] 

former migrations. 


[1] Schmitz, Leonhard (1867), "Aethalides" (, in Smith, William, Dictionary of Greek 

and Roman Biography and Mythology, 1, Boston, MA, pp. 49, 

[2] Apollonius of Rhodes, i. 54, 640, &c. 

[3] Argonautica Orphica 131 

[4] Gaius Julius Hyginus, Fabulae 14 

[5] Diogenes Laertius, viii. 1. § 4, &c. 

[6] Gaius Valerius Flaccus, i.437 

@ This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Smith, William, ed. (1867). " al 


". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology . 

Amphion 178 


There are several characters named Amphion (Ancient Greek: A|iq)L(Dv) in Greek mythology: 

• Amphion, son of Zeus and Antiope, and twin brother of Zethus (see Amphion and Zethus). Together they are 
famous for building Thebes. Amphion married Niobe, and killed himself after the loss of his wife and children 
(the Niobids) at the hands of Apollo and Artemis. Diodorus Siculus calls Chloris his daughter, but the other 
accounts of her parentage identify her father as another Amphion, the ruler of Minyan Orchomenus (see below). 

• Amphion, son of Iasus and Persephone (a mortal woman, not the wife of Hades). This Amphion is an obscure 
character, said to be a king of the Minyans of Orchomenus, in Boeotia. 

• Amphion, son of Hyperasius; he and his brother Asterius were Argonauts. 


• Amphion the Epean, of Elis, who took part in the Trojan War on the side of the Greeks. 


[1] Diodorus Siculus, 4.68.6. 

[2] Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica 1.176. 

[3] Homer, Iliad 13.685-93. 


The name Ancaeus or Ankaios (AyKaloi;) is attributed to two heroes in Greek mythology. Both were among the 
Argonauts, and each met his death at the tusks of a boar. They are often confused with one another. 

Ancaeus of Arcadia 

Ancaeus, son of King Lycurgus of Arcadia, was both an Argonaut and a participant in the Calydonian Boar hunt, in 
which he met his end. His arms were ominously hidden at home, but he set forth, dressed in a bearskin and armed 
only with a labrys (Xappix; "doubled-bladed axe"). His wife was named Iotis, and his mother was either Cleophyle 
or Eurynome according to one account, or Antinoe according to another one. Ancaeus' son Agapenor led the 
Arcadian forces during the Trojan War. 

Ancaeus of Samos 

Ancaeus was king of the island of Samos, and an Argonaut: helmsmanship was his special skill. He was a son of 

Poseidon and Astypalaea, and brother of Eurypylus. By other accounts his father was the Lelegian king Altes, 

which accords well with Ancaeus's rule over the Leleges of Samos. According to a lost epic of his house, sung by the 

Samian poet Asios, he married Samia, daughter of the river god Maeander, who bore him Perilaus, Enudus, Samus, 

Alitherses, and Parthenope, the mother of Lycomedes. The most famous story surrounding this Ancaeus is the 

following: When planting a vineyard, for Samos was famed for its wine, he was told by a seer that he would never 

taste its wine. Ancaeus then joined the voyage of the Argonauts, and returned home safely, by which time the grapes 

were ripe and had been made into wine. He summoned the seer before him, and raised a cup of his own wine to his 

lips, and was ready to taste it for the first time. He then mocked the seer, who retorted, "There is many a slip between 

the cup and the lip" (IloUd [.lEta^i) nikei kijXlkoc; Kai XeiAeoi; aKpoxJ). Before Ancaeus had tasted the wine, an 

alarm was raised that a wild boar was ravaging the vineyard, and on hearing this, Ancaeus dropped the cup and went 

out to investigate — and was promptly killed by the boar. 




[1] Argonautica, 2.866ff. 

[2] Argonautica, 1.186. 

[3] Pausanias. Description of Greece, 7.4.1. 

[4] Pausanias. Description of Greece, 1.30.4 and 5.15.6. 

External links 

• Theioi Project - Poseidon and Astypalaia ( Astypalaia.html) 


Atalanta (Ancient Greek: AtaXavti], Atalante, 
"balanced") is a character in Greek mythology. 


Atalanta was the daughter of Iasus (or Mainalos 
or Schoeneus, according to Hyginus), a Boeotian 
(according to Hesiod) or an Arcadian princess 
(according to the Bibliotheca). She is often 
described as a goddess. The Bibliotheca is the 
only one who gives an account of Atalanta's 
birth and upbringing. King Iasus wanted a son; 
when Atalanta was born, he left her on a 
mountaintop to die. Some stories say that a 
she-bear suckled and cared for Atalanta until 

Peleus and Atalanta wrestling, black-figured hydria, ca. 550 BC, Staatliche 
Antikensammlungen (Inv. 596). 

hunters found and raised her, and she learned to fight and hunt as a bear would. She was later reunited with her 

Having grown up in the wilderness, Atalanta became a fierce hunter and was always happy. She took an oath of 
virginity to the goddess Artemis. 



Calydonian boar hunt 

When Artemis was forgotten at a sacrifice by King Oineus, she was 
angered and sent a wild boar that ravaged the land, men, and cattle and 
prevented crops from being sown. Atalanta joined Meleager and many 
other famous heroes on a hunt for the boar. Many of the men were 
angry that a woman was joining them, but Meleager, though married, 
lusted for Atalanta, and so he persuaded them to include her. Several of 
the men were killed before Atalanta became the first to hit the boar and 
draw blood. After Meleager finally killed the boar with his spear, he 
awarded the skin to Atalanta. Meleager's uncles, Plexippus and 
Toxeus, were angry and tried to take the skin from her. In revenge, 
Meleager killed his uncles. Wild with grief, Meleager's mother Althaea 
threw a charmed log on the fire, which consumed Meleager's life as it 


Jacob Jordaens - Meleager and Atalanta • 
WGA 11997 

After the Calydonian boar hunt, Atalanta was rediscovered by her 
father. He wanted her to be wed, but Atalanta, uninterested in marriage, agreed to marry only if her suitors could 
outrun her in a footrace. Those who lost would be killed. King Schoeneus agreed, and many young men died in the 
attempt until Melanion (or Hippomenes) came along. Melanion asked the goddess Aphrodite for help, and she gave 
him three golden apples in order to slow Atalanta down. The apples were irresistible, so every time Atalanta got 
ahead of Melanion, he rolled an apple ahead of her, and she would run after it. In this way, Melanion won the 
footrace and came to marry Atalanta. Eventually they had a son Parthenopaios, who was one of the Seven against 
Thebes. Zeus (or Cybele, or Rhea) turned Atalanta and Melanion into lions after they made love together in one of 
his temples. Other accounts say that Aphrodite changed them into lions because they did not give her proper honor. 
The belief at the time was that lions could not mate with their own species, only with leopards; thus Atalanta and 
Hippomenes would never be able to remain with one another. 

In some versions of the quest for the Golden Fleece, for instance that published by Robert Graves in 1944, Atalanta 
sailed with the Argonauts as the only female among them. She jumped aboard the ship soon after the expedition set 
out, invoking the protection of Artemis,whose virgin priestess she was. She was following Meleager who had put 
away his young wife for Atalanta's sake. Atalanta returned his love but was prevented by an oracle from 
consummating their union, being warned that losing her virginity would prove disastrous for her. In disappointment 
Meleager joined the Argo,but Atalanta would not let him out of her sight. She plays a major part in various 
adventures of Jason's crew, suffered injury in a battle at Colchis, and was healed by Medea. 

The Bibliotheca also says she wrestled and defeated Peleus at the funeral games for Pelias. Apollonius of Rhodes, on 
the other hand, claims Jason would not allow a woman on the ship because she would cause strife on the otherwise 
all-male expedition (Argonautica 1.769-73). 

Atalanta 181 

Cultural depictions 

Handel wrote a 1736 opera about the character, Atalanta. In the 20th century, Robert Ashley also wrote an opera, 
Atalanta (Acts of God), with loose allegorical connections to the myth. Other works based on the myth include a 
play by Algernon Charles Swinburne, Atalanta in Calydon, written (in the style of Greek tragedy) in 1865. 

A version of Atalanta appears in three episodes of the television series Hercules: the Legendary Journeys: 'Ares", 
"Let the Games Begin" and "If I Had a Hammer", played by Corey Everson. In this version, she is a Spartan 
blacksmith, as well as a superior athlete. She has a crush on Hercules and unsuccessfully tries to seduce him many 
times. An Atalanta action figure was included in the Hercules toy line. 

Atalanta features prominently in the Hallmark mini-series of Jason and the Argonauts where she is played by Olga 
Sosnovska. This version depicts her as being a childhood friend of Jason's and abruptly joining the voyage despite 
his protests. On the Isle of Lemnos it is she who discovers Hypsipyle's plan and saves them. Later on in the story she 
confesses that she loves Jason but he views her as a sister, preferring Medea. Although she is unhappy at this 
rejection there are hints of a possible romance between her and a thief throughout the mini-series. 


A cartoon version of the story of Atalanta's foot race was included in Free to Be... You and Me, a record album and 
illustrated songbook first released in November 1972, and later in 1974 as a television special. It is presented as the 
story of a Princess Atalanta, whose father the King wants her to marry. The story highlights Atalanta's role as a 
feminist figure, where she is a skilled athlete and gifted astronomer. She makes an agreement with her father that she 
will marry only if there is a man as fast as her, confident there is no such man as fast as her. Meanwhile, a man 
known only as 'Young John' is seen training, and after seeing he completed a track run before an hourglass expired 
he feels confident enough to compete in the race. While she beats almost all the men in the foot race, she ties Young 
John, who is then awarded her hand in marriage by the King (Contrary to the original story in which he cheated in 
the race by winning a goddess' favor). Young John refuses the prize, saying he could not possibly marry the princess 
unless she wished to marry him, and that he ran the race for the chance to get to know Atalanta. Atalanta agrees that 
she could not possibly marry John without first going off to see the world. The two part as friends, going off to travel 
the world individually. The fable ends with, "Perhaps someday they'll be married, and perhaps they will not. In any 
case, it is certain, they are both living happily ever after.", reinforcing the feminist message of the tale. 

Video games 

In the Nintendo Game Boy Advance game, Golden Sun, and its sequel Golden Sun: The Lost Age, Atalanta (the 
Heavenly Huntress) is a second-level Jupiter element Summon that requires the use of 2 Jupiter Djinn to summon. 
She throws a volley of green arrows to all the enemies on screen. 

In the 1997 Sega Saturn/Sony Playstation game Here's Adventures, she is a playable character. 

In the PC game Poseidon (an expansion pack for Zeus: Master of Olympus), the player can summon Atalanta to 
fulfill quests given to the player by the Gods, namely Artemis. She will say the line "this city is as wonderful as a 
golden apple" if your city is especially liked. Atalanta can also be summoned if the player's city is attacked by a 
Sphinx or four Harpies. 

In the videogame Rise of the Argonauts, Atalanta appears as a headstrong huntress who was orphaned at a young age 
and raised by centaurs on the island of Saria. She joins the crew of the Argo and can assist the player, as Jason, with 
her archery. 

She appears as a minor hero in the game Age of Mythology. 

Atalanta is also the name of Cassandra's armor parts in Soul Calibur IV 

Atalanta 182 

Comic books 

In 2000, the Belgian comic book artist and writer Crisse (Didier Chrispeels) introduced the first of a series of comic 
books featuring Atalanta, who is also abandoned by her father but saved by goddesses and nurtured by a bear. She is 
adopted by the hunters who killed the bear and becomes well known for her fast running. The series focuses mainly 
on her adventures with the Argonauts whom she accompanies as a means of later joining the Amazons. The series 
also features Jason, Hercules, and other heroes and gods and goddesses of Greek mythology, though the emphasis is 
mainly on humour. 

Atalanta is currently one of the featured characters in the comic Hercules: the Thracian Wars from Radical comics. 
In this version she is a lesbian and seeks death after being defeated by Hippomenes and the three "golden apples" in 
the legendary foot race and then deflowered. She kills Hippomenes and joins up with Hercules hoping for an 
honorable death to be forgiven by Artemis. Other notables include the familiar Meleager, Autolycus, and Iolcaus. 

In Peter David's run on The Incredible Hulk in the 1990s, there was a character named Atalanta who was a member 
of a group called The Pantheon. She and other members of this group were descendants of an immortal youth named 
Agamemnon and were named after characters in Greek mythology. This Atalanta was a brash, confident 
warrior-woman. Like the majority of her fellow Pantheon teammates, she had somewhat enhanced strength and 
agility. Her weapon was a bow that could shoot energy projectiles. She was the unwilling object of affection to a 
Troyjan (an alien race whose people have no noses) prince named Trauma. 


[1] the cartoon on youtube ( 
[2] Atalante ( 

External links 

• Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 9. 2 for Atalanta and 1.8.3 for the Boar Hunt 

• Rubens's "Atalanta and Meleager" ( 
asp?venue=2&id=6) in the Lady Lever Art Gallery ( 


• Reference to Kindled the Brand in Meleager's death ( 

Autolycus 183 


In Greek mythology, Autolycus (in Greek, Ai)t6}ojko<;, Autolykos, "The Wolf Itself") was a son of Hermes and 
Chione. He was the husband of Neaera, or according to Homer, of Amphithea. Autolycus fathered Anticlea 
(who married Laertes of Ithaca and was the mother of Odysseus) and several sons, of whom only Aesimus is named. 

Life and major events 

Autolycus was born the son of Hermes and Chione or Philonis. He had a helmet to make him invisible. However 
Pausanias stated that his real father was Daedalion (Pausanias 8.4.7). Autolycus was conceived by Hermes touching 
the virgin Chione's face (Ovid 11. 301). 

Autolycus was husband to Mestra, daughter of Erysichthon (Ovid 8. 738), or to Neaera (Pausanias 8. 4. 3), or to 
Amphithea (Homer, Odyssey, 19. 394). He became the father of Anticlea and Polymede, of whom the latter was the 
mother of Jason, the famous Argonaut who led a group of men to find the coveted Golden Fleece (Apollodorus 
1.9.16). A different Autolycus, the son of Deimachus, was a part of the Argonauts who went on the journey to find 
the fleece. 

Through Anticleia, Autolycus was also the grandfather of the famous warrior Odysseus (Homer 24.330), and he was 
responsible for the naming of the child as well. This happened when the nurse of the child Eurycleia "laid the child 
upon his knees and spoke, and addressed him: Autolycus, find now thyself a name to give to thy child's own child; 
be sure he has long been prayed for" (Homer 19.386-403). 

Autolycus obtained most of the same skills that his supposed father Hermes possesses, such as the art of theft, 
trickery (Hyginus 201), and skill with the lyre and gracious song (Ovid 11. 301). It was said that he "loved to make 
white of black, and black of white, from a hornless animal to a horned one, or from horned one to a hornless" 
(Hyginus 201). He was given the gift that his thievery could not be caught by anyone (Hyginus 201). 

He put his skills to the test when he stole the helmet of the great warrior and his grandson, Odysseus, "he had broken 
into the stout-built house of Amyntor, son of Ormenus; and he gave it to Amphidamas of Cythera to take to 
Scandeia, and Amphidamas gave it to Molus as a guest-gift, but he gave it to his own son Meriones to wear; and 
now, being set thereon, it covered the head of Odysseus" (Homer 10.254 I). Autolycus, master of thievery, was also 
well known for stealing Sisyphus' herd right from underneath him. Sisyphus, who was commonly known for being a 
crafty king that killed guests, seduced his niece and stole his brothers' throne (Hyginus 50-99) and was banished to 
the throes of Tartarus by the gods. 

Herakles, the great Greek hero, was taught the art of wrestling by Autolycus (Apollodorus 2.4.9). However, 
Autolycus was a source of some controversy in Herakles' life, because Autolycus stole some cattle from Euboea and 
Eurytus, who accused Herakles of the deed and, upon his going mad about these accusations, Herakles killed them 
plus another one of Autolycus' sons, Iphitus. This led to Herakles serving three years of punishment for the deed to 
repent for this (Apollodorus 2.6.3). 

Autolycus 184 

Cultural references 

Although not as well known as many other Greek mythological figures, Autolycus has appeared in a number of 
works of fiction. 

• A comic thief in Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale boasts that he is named after Autolycus and, like him, is "a 
snapper-up of unconsidered trifles". 

• Autolycus appeared in Diana Wynne Jones' book The Game as a very mischievous brat. 

• In the television series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess, Autolycus appeared as a 
comical antihero, portrayed by cult actor Bruce Campbell, who has a kinder heart than he lets on. As the 
self-proclaimed "King of Thieves", he was depicted as a thief of great cunning but even greater ego, which 
typically resulted in him getting in over his head in one scenario after another. 

• Autolycus is also the name of a fictional racehorse in the 1934 film The Clairvoyant, starring Claude Rains. 

• Autolycus is the name of Debbie Aldridge's horse in the BBC Radio 4 series The Archers'. 

• Autolycus is the name of a midget submarine owned by the Lost Boys, the thieves of Philip Reeve's Mortal 
Engines series of books. 

• Autolycus is the name of a pet Jackdaw belonging to the fictional detective Albert Campion in the novels by 
Margery Allingham. 

• Autolycus appeared in an episode of the Canadian television series Class of the Titans, stealing Hercules's last 
surviving arrow for Cronus. 

• The superhero/trickster figure of Uncle Sam in Robert Coover's The Public Burning (1977, New York, Grove 
Books) is described in the following terms (p. 7): "American Autolycus, they called him in the Gospels, referring 
to his cunning powers of conjuration, transmutation, and magical consumption (he can play the shell game, not 
with a mere pea, but with whole tin mines, forests, oil fields, mountain ranges, and just before Thanksgiving this 
past year made an entire island disappear!)". 

• Autolycus the penname Aldous Huxley used when writing the 'Marginalia' column in the Athenaeum. 

• In the game Age of Empires Online, an army of computer-controlled opponents, who call themselves the 
Followers of Autolycus, must be defeated during several quests. 


Bibliotheca I, ix, 16; II, iv, 9; vi, 2. 

Ovid. Metamorphoses XI, 301-17; Homer. Iliad X, 265-271. 

Homer. Odyssey XI, 84-6; XIX,395-566. 

Hyginus, Fabulae 

Homer, Odyssey 

Ovid, Metamorphoses 

Pausanias, Description of Greece 

Aeschylus, Fragments 


Homer, Iliad 

Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 




[1] Pausanias viii. 4. § 3 (cited in Smith) 

[2] Odyssey xix. 394, &c. (cited in Smith) 

[3] Hyginus, Fabulae 201 (http://www.theoi.eom/Text/HyginusFabulae5.html#201) 

[4] Catalogue of Women fr. 64. 

[5] Murray, Nicholas, biography oaAldous Huxley 2002. 

External links 

• Godchecker - Autolycus: The Prince of Thieves ( 

• Classic Encyclopedia (1911) - Autolycus ( 

• Marvel Characters - Captain Autolycus ( 



Bellerophon( 4 /be'lerefen/; Greek: 
BeXXspocpcov) or Bellerophontes 

(B£XX£potp6vTn<;) is a hero of Greek 
mythology. He was "the greatest hero and 
slayer of monsters, alongside Cadmus and 
Perseus, before the days of Heracles", 
whose greatest feat was killing the Chimera, 
a monster that Homer depicted with a lion's 
head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail: "her 
breath came out in terrible blasts of burning 



One possible etymology that has been 
suggested is: B£XX£pocp6vTr|<; < pEXe|ivov, 
psXovi], |3eXo<; (projectile, dart, javelin, 
needle, arrow, bullet) + -cpovrnc; (slayer) < 
cpovEiKD (to slay). However, Kirk says that 
"BE^Epoq)6vti](; means 'slayer of 



Belleros could have been a 

Bellerophon on Pegasus spears the Chimera, on an Attic red-figure epinetron, 
425^20 BC 

Lycian, a local daimon or a Corinthian nobleman — Bellerophon's name "clearly invited all sorts of speculation 


Bellerophon's myth 

The Iliad vi. 155— 203 contains an embedded narrative told by Bellerophon's grandson Glaucus, named for his 
great-grandfather, which recounts Bellerophon's myth. Bellerophon was a son of the King Glaucus ("sea-green" ) 
of Corinth and the grandson of death-cheating Sisyphus. Bellerophon's grandsons Sarpedon and the younger Glaucus 

fought in the Trojan War. In the Epitome of pseudo-Apollodorus, a genealogy is given for Chrysaor ("of the golden 
sword") that would make him a double of Bellerophon; he too is called the son of Glaucus the son of Sisyphus. 



Chrysaor has no myth save that of his birth: from the severed neck of Medusa, who was with child by Poseidon, he 
and Pegasus both sprang at the moment of her death. "From this moment we hear no more of Chrysaor, the rest of 
the tale concerning the stallion only. ..[who visits the spring of Pirene] perhaps also for his brother's sake, by whom in 
the end he let himself be caught, the immortal horse by his mortal brother." 

Bellerophon's brave journey began in the familiar way, with an 

exile: he had murdered either his brother, whose name is usually 

given as Deliades, or killed a shadowy "enemy", a "Belleros 

(though the details are never directly told), and in expiation of his 

crime arrived as a suppliant to Proetus, king in Tiryns, one of the 

Mycenaean strongholds of the Argolid. Proetus, by virtue of his 

kingship, cleansed Bellerophon of his crime. The wife of the king, 

whether named Anteia or Stheneboea, took a fancy to him, 

but when he rejected her, she accused Bellerophon of attempting 

to ravish her. Proetus dared not satisfy his anger by killing a 

guest, so he sent Bellerophon to King Iobates his father-in-law, in 

the plain of the River Xanthus in Lycia, bearing a sealed message 

in a folded tablet: "Pray remove the bearer from this world: he attempted to violate my wife, your daughter.' 

Before opening the tablets, Iobates feasted with Bellerophon for nine days. On reading the tablet's message Iobates 

too feared the wrath of the Erinyes if he murdered a guest; so he sent Bellerophon on a mission that he deemed 

impossible: to kill the fire-breathing monster the Chimera, living in neighboring Caria. The Chimera was a 

fire -breathing monster whose make-up comprised the body of a goat, the head of a lion and the tail being a serpent. 

This monster had terrorized the nearby countryside. Iobates sent Bellerophon on the quest to fight the Solymi, 

tribesmen bent on glory. Bellerophon defeated them but not easily. 

The eternal fires of Chimera in Lycia (modern-day 
Turkey) where the Chimera myth takes place. 


He was then sent to battle the Amazons, fighting women, whom he again defeated in a tough battle most men would 
have lost. 

Capturing Pegasus 

Veroli casket panel detail showing Bellerophon 
with Pegasus, dating from 900-1000AD. 

The Lycian seer Polyeidos told Bellerophon that he would have need 
of Pegasus. To obtain the services of the untamed winged horse, 
Polyeidos told Bellerophon to sleep in the temple of Athena. While 
Bellerophon slept, he dreamed that Athena set a golden bridle beside 
him, saying "Sleepest thou, prince of the house of Aiolos? Come, take 
this charm for the steed and show it to the Tamer thy father as thou 
makest sacrifice to him of a white bull." It was there when he 
awoke. Bellerophon had to approach Pegasus while it drank from a 
well; Polyeidos told him which well — the never-failing Pirene on the 
citadel of Corinth, the city of Bellerophon's birth. Other accounts say 
that Athena brought Pegasus already tamed and bridled, or that 

Poseidon the horse-tamer, secretly the father of Bellerophon, brought Pegasus, as Pausanias understood 
Bellerophon mounted his steed and flew off to where the Chimera was said to dwell. 




The slaying of the Chimera 

When he arrived in Lycia, the Chimera was truly ferocious, and he 
could not harm the monster even while riding on Pegasus. He felt the 
heat of the breath the Chimera expelled, and was struck with an idea. 
He got a large block of lead and mounted it on his spear. Then he flew 
head-on towards the Chimera, holding out the spear as far as he could. 
Before he broke off his attack, he managed to lodge the block of lead 
inside the Chimera's throat. The beast's fire-breath melted the lead, and 
blocked its air passage. The Chimera suffocated, and Bellerophon 
returned victorious to King Iobates. Iobates, on Bellerophon's 
return, was unwilling to credit his story. A series of daunting further 
quests ensued: he was sent against the warlike Solymi and then against 
the Amazons who fought like men, whom Bellerophon vanquished by 
dropping boulders from his winged horse; when he was sent against a 
Carian pirate, Cheirmarrhus, an ambush failed, when Bellerophon 
killed all sent to assassinate him; the palace guards were sent against 
him, but Bellerophon called upon Poseidon, who flooded the plain of 
Xanthus behind Bellerophon as he approached. In defense the palace women sent him and the flood in retreat by 

rushing from the gates with their robes lifted high, offering themselves, to which the modest hero replied by 

withdrawing. Iobates relented, produced the letter, and allowed Bellerophon to marry his daughter Philonoe, the 

n 8i 
younger sister of Anteia, and shared with him half his kingdom, with fine vineyards and grain fields. The lady 


Philonoe bore him Isander, Hippolochus and Laodamia, who lay with Zeus the Counselor and bore Sarpedon but 

was slain by Artemis. However, as Bellerophon's fame grew, so did his hubris. Bellerophon felt that 

because of his victory over the Chimera he deserved to fly to Mount Olympus, the realm of the gods. However, this 

presumption angered Zeus and he sent a gad-fly to sting the horse causing Bellerophon to fall all the way back to 

Earth. Pegasus completed the flight to Olympus where Zeus used him as a pack horse for his thunderbolts. On the 

Plain of Aleion ("Wandering"), Bellerophon (who had fallen into a thorn bush) lived out his life in misery as a 

blinded crippled hermit grieving and shunning the haunts of men until he died. In Tlos, near Fethiye, in modern 

day Turkey, ancient Lykia, there is a tomb with a carving of a man riding a winged horse. This is claimed locally to 

be the tomb of Bellerophon. 

Euripides' Bellerophontes 

Enough fragments of Euripides' lost tragedy Bellerophontes remain embedded as some thirty quotations in surviving 
texts to give scholars a basis for assessing its theme: the tragic outcome of his attempt to storm Olympus on Pegasus. 
An outspoken passage — in which Bellerophon seems to doubt the gods' existence from the contrast between the 
wicked and impious, who live lives of ease with the privations suffered by the good — is apparently the basis for 
Aristophanes' imputation of "atheism" to the tragic poet. 



Perseus on Pegasus 

The replacement of Bellerophon by the more familiar culture hero Perseus was a development of Classical times that 
was standardized during the Middle Ages and has been adopted by the European poets of the Renaissance and 



The British Airborne Units' coat of arms depicts 
Pegasus as a winged unicorn. 

In popular culture 

• The first planet discovered orbiting a Sun-like star, 51 Pegasi b, has 

been unofficially nicknamed 'Bellerophon'. 

• Chimera, the 1972 National Book Award-winning novel by John 
Barth, includes a novella called Belle rophoniad that is a complex 
postmodern retelling and examination of the myth of Bellerophon. 

• In The Concept of Anxiety, S0ren Kierkegaard wrote that 
Bellerophon "sat calmly on his Pegasus in the service of the idea 
but fell when he wanted to misuse Pegasus by riding the horse to a 


rendezvous with a mortal woman. 

• The classical opera seria II Bellerofonte of the Czech composer 
Josef Myslivecek, premiered in Naples, 1767; its libretto by 
Giuseppe Bonecchi focused on the passion of the queen Antea. 

• Bellerophon is a computer program used by geneticists and 
molecular biologists to detect invalid "chimera" genetic sequences. 

• Bellerophon was also the name of four or more Royal Navy 
warships, the first of which fought many naval battles against 
Napoleon. HMS Bellerphon's keel was laid down in 1782, she was 
launched in 1792 and broken up in 1836. Napoleon surrendered and 
was taken aboard the Bellerophon after his defeat at Waterloo. 
Known as "Billy Ruffian" by the crew, the 74 gun warship fought at 
the Battle of the Nile (1798) and Battle of Trafalgar (1805). The 
second HMS Bellerophon was an early battleship, renamed Indus 
III in 1904 and used for training, then sold in 1922. The third HMS 
Bellerophon was the lead ship of a three-ship class, which were a 
follow up to HMS Dreadnought; she fought at the Battle of Jutland. 
For other ships of the same name, see HMS Bellerophon. 

• The USS Bellerophon (ARL-31) was one of 41 Achelous-class landing craft repair ships built for the United 
States Navy during World War II. She was the only U.S. Naval vessel to bear the name. 

• A large statue of Bellerophon taming Pegasus graces the facade of the Columbia Law School in Manhattan. 

• Bellerophon astride Pegasus, as the first airborne warrior, is the traditional symbol of British Airborne forces. 

• 'Bellerophon' is the name of a spacecraft in each of: the 1956 movie, Forbidden Planet; the TV series Andromeda; 
and the series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. 'Bellerophon' was also the name of a character on the series Xena: 
Warrior Princess and the name of a planet in the series Firefly. 

• 'Bellerophon' is used as a name for a cure to the fictional virus 'Chimera' in Mission Impossible II. 

A statue of Bellerophon taming Pegasus outside 
Columbia Law School 

Bellerophon 189 


[I] Kerenyi 1959, p 75. 
[2] ffiadvi.155-203. 
[3] Kirk 1990, p 178 
[4] ibid. 

[5] Kerenyi 1959 p 78 suggests that "sea-green" Glaucus is a double for Poseidon, god of the sea, who looms behind many of the elements in 
Bellerophon's myth, not least as the sire of Pegasus and of Chrysaor, but also as the protector of Bellerophon. 

[6] Kerenyi 1959 p 80. 

[7] See Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, chapter 1, "Separation". 

[8] The suggestion, made by Kerenyi and others, makes the name "Bellerophontes" the "killer of Belleros", just as Hermes Argeiphontes is 
"Hermes the killer of Argus". Carpenter, Rhys (1950). "Argeiphontes: A Suggestion". American Journal of Archaeology 54 (3): 177—183. 
JSTOR 500295., makes a carefully argued case for Bellerophontes as the "bane-slayer" of the "bane to mankind" in Iliad 11.329, derived from 
a rare Greek word kXkzpov, explained by the grammarians as KaKov, "evil". This £>Ji.£pov is connected by Katz, J. (1998). "How to be a 
Dragon in Indo-European: Hittite illuyankas and its Linguistic and Cultural Congeners in Latin, Greek, and Germanic". In Jasanoff; Melchert; 
Oliver. Mir Curad. Studies in Honor of Calvert Watlcins. Innsbruck, pp. 317—334. ISBN 3851246675. with aHesychius golss ekvec, "water 
animal", and an Indo-European word for "snake", OR "dragon", cognate to English eel, also found in Hittite Illuyanka, which would make 
Bellerophon the dragon slayer of Indo-European myth, represented by Indra slaying Vrtra in Indo- Aryan, and by Thor slaying the Midgard 
Serpent in Germanic. Robert Graves in The Greek Myths rev. ed. 1960 suggested a translation "bearing darts". 

[9] In Iliad vi. 

[10] Euripides' tragedies Sthenehoia and Bellerophontes are lost. 

[II] This mytheme is most familiar in the narrative of Joseph and Potiphar's wife. Robert Graves also notes the parallel in the Egyptian Tale of 
Two Brothers and in the desire of Athamas' wife for Phrixus (Graves 1960, 70.2, 75.1). 

[12] The tablets "on which he had traced a number of devices with a deadly meaning" constitute the only apparent reference to writing in the 

Iliad. Such a letter is termed a "bellerophontic" letter; one such figures in a subplot of Shakespeare's Hamlet, bringing offstage death to 

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Such a letter figures in the earlier story of Sargon of Akkad. 
[13] Kerenyi 1959, quoting Apollodorus Mythographus, 2.7.4. 
[14] Description of Greece! .4.6. 

[15] Some of the red-figure pottery painters show Bellerophon wielding Poseidon's trident instead (Kerenyi 1959). 
[16] Hesiod, Theogony 319ff; Bihliotheke, ii.3.2; Pindar, Olympian Odes, xiii.63ff; Pausanias, ii.4.1; Hyginus, Fabulae, 157; John Tzetzes, On 

[17] Robert Graves, 75. d; Plutarch, On the Virtues of Women. 
[18] The inheritance of kingship through the king's daughter, with many heroic instances, was discussed by Finkelberg, Margalit (1991). "Royal 

succession in heroic Greece". The Classical Quarterly. New Series 41 (2): 303—316. JSTOR 638900.; compare Orion and Merope. 
[19] Isander was struck down by Ares in battle with the Solymi (Iliad xvi. 
[20] Homer, Iliad, 6. 197-205 
[21] Oxford Classical Mythology Online. "Chapter 25: Myths of Local Heroes and Heroines" ( 

websites/0195153448/studentresources/chapters/ch25/?view=usa). Classical Mythology, Seventh Edition. Oxford University Press USA. . 

Retrieved April 26, 2010. 
[22] Diodorus Siculus, refers to her as Deidamia and makes her wife of Evander, son of Sarpedon the elder and by her father of Sarpedon the 

younger. Library of History, 5. 79. 3 
[23] Parallels are in the myths of Icarus and Phaeton. 
[24] Pindar, Olympian Odes, xiii.87— 90, and Isthmian Odes, vii.44; Bihliotheke ii.3.2; Homer, Iliad vi. 155— 203 and xvi. 328; Ovid, 

Metamorphoses ix.646. 
[25] Riedweg, Christoph (1990). "The 'atheistic' fragment from Euripides' Bellerophontes (286 N 2 )". Illinois Classical Studies 15 (1): 39—53. 

ISSN 0363-1923. 
[26] Johnston, George Burke (1955). "Jonson's 'Perseus upon Pegasus'". The Review of English Studies. New Series 6 (21): 65—67. 

[27] "Stars with Exoplanets" ( 2010-11-11. . 
[28] The Concept of Anxiety. Princeton University Press. 1980. p. 150. ISBN 0-691-02011-6. 



Further reading 

• Graves, Robert, 1960. The Greek Myths, revised edition (Harmondsworth: Penguin) 

• Homer, Iliad, book vi. 155—203 

• Kerenyi, Karl, 1959. The Heroes of the Greeks (London: Thames and Hudson) 

• Kirk, G.S., 1990. The Iliad: A Commentary Volume II: books 5-8. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) 


For the genus ofnoctuid moths, see Zethes (moth). 

For the social fraternity nicknamed "Zetes", see Zeta Psi 

The Boreads, in Greek mythology, were Calais (KaXdic) and 
Zetes (also Zethes) (Zr|TT]£). They were the sons of Boreas 
and Oreithyia, daughter of King Erechtheus of Athens. Due to 
being sons of the north wind they were supernaturally gifted 
in different ways (depending on changes in the story from 
being passed down through generations and cultures) either 
being as fast as the wind or able to fly, having wings either on 
their feet or backs, depending on the myth. 

They were Argonauts and played a particularly vital role in 
the rescue of Phineus from the harpies. They succeeded in 
driving the monsters away but did not kill them, at a request 
from the goddess of the rainbow, Iris, who promised that 
Phineas would not be bothered by the harpies again. As 
thanks, Phineas told the Argonauts how to pass the 
Symplegades. It is said that the Boreads were turned back by 
Iris at the Strophades. The islands' name, meaning "Islands of 
Turning", refers to this event. 

The Boreads rescuing Phineus from the Harpies, 
column-krater by the Leningrad Painter, ca. 460 BC, Louvre 

Their death was said to be caused by Heracles on Tenos in 

revenge for when they convinced the Argonauts to leave him behind as he searched for Hylas. 

Other sources imply that the sons of Boreas died chasing the harpies, as it was fated that they would perish if they 
failed to catch those they pursued. In some versions, the harpies drop into the sea from exhaustion, and so their 
pursuers fall as well. 


• Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica I, 21 1-223. 

• Apollodorus, Bibliotheke I, ix, 21; III, xv, 2. 




Cadmus fighting the dragon. Painting from a krater in 
the Louvre Museum. 

Cadmus or Kadmos (Ancient Greek: Ka6u,o<;), in Greek 
mythology was a Phoenician prince, the son of king Agenor and 
queen Telephassa of Tyre and the brother of Phoenix, Cilix and 
Europa. He was originally sent by his royal parents to seek out and 
escort his sister Europa back to Tyre after she was abducted from 
the shores of Phoenicia by Zeus. Cadmus founded the Greek city 
of Thebes, the acropolis of which was originally named Cadmeia 
in his honor. 

Cadmus was credited by the ancient Greeks (Herodotus is an 
example) with introducing the original Alphabet or Phoenician 
alphabet — phoinikeia grammata, "Phoenician letters" — to the 
Greeks, who adapted it to form their Greek alphabet. Herodotus 
estimates that Cadmus lived sixteen hundred years before his time, 


or around 2000 BC. Herodotus had seen and described the 

Cadmean writing in the temple of Apollo at Thebes engraved on 

certain tripods. He estimated those tripods to date back to the time of Laius the great-grandson of Cadmus. On one 

of the tripods there was this inscription in Cadmean writing, which as he attested, resembled Ionian letters: 

Au,cpLTpi)a>v \i avE0i]K' svapcov ajto TiiXsPoatov {"Amphitryon dedicated me [don't forgetjthe spoils of [the battle 

of] Teleboae. "). 

Though later Greeks like Herodotus dated Cadmus's role in the founding myth of Thebes to well before the Trojan 
War (or, in modern terms, during the Aegean Bronze Age), this chronology conflicts with most of what is now 
known or thought to be known about the origins and spread of both the Phoenician and Greek alphabets. While a 
Phoenician origin for the Greek alphabet is certain, the earliest Greek inscriptions match Phoenician letter forms 
from the late 9th or 8th centuries BC — and, in any case, the Phoenician alphabet properly speaking wasn't developed 
until around 1050 BC (or after the Bronze Age collapse). The Homeric picture of the Mycenaean age betrays 
extremely little awareness of writing, possibly reflecting the loss during the Dark Age of the earlier Linear B script. 
Indeed the only Homeric reference to writing was in the phrase "ypauiiata Xuypa", grammata lygrd, literally 
"uneducated", when referring to the Bellerophontic letter. (According to Walter Burkert in The Orientalizing 
Revolution, literacy explodes within a few decades after 750 BC: "The earliest Greek letters recognized to date 
originate in Naxos, Ischia, Athens, and Euboea, and appear around or a little before 750". ) Linear B tablets have 
been found in abundance at Thebes, which might lead one to speculate that the legend of Cadmus as bringer of the 
alphabet could reflect earlier traditions about the origins of Linear B writing in Greece (as Frederick Ahl speculated 
in 1967 ). But such a suggestion, however attractive, is by no means a certain conclusion in light of currently 
available evidence. The connection between the name of Cadmus and the historical origins of either the Linear B 
script or the later Phoenician alphabet, if any, remains elusive. However, in modern day Lebanon, Cadmus is still 
revered and celebrated as the 'carrier of the letter' to the world. 

According to Greek myth, Cadmus's descendants ruled at Thebes on and off for several generations, including the 
time of the Trojan War. 





Cadmus' name is of uncertain etymology. It has been connected to Semitic qdm "the east" and Greek kekasmai 
(<*kekadmai) "to shine". Robert Beekes rejects these derivations and considers it "pre-Greek". 



After his sister Europa had been carried off by 
Zeus from the shores of Phoenicia, Cadmus was 
sent out by his father to find her, and enjoined 
not to return without her. Unsuccessful in his 
search - or unwilling to go against Zeus - he 
came to Samothrace, the island sacred to the 
"Great Gods' and the Kabeiroi, whose 

mysteries would be celebrated also at Thebes. 
Cadmus did not journey alone to Samothrace; he 
appeared with his "far-shining" mother 


Telephassa in the company of his brother, 
who gave his name to the island of Thasos 
nearby. An identically composed trio had other 
names at Samothrace, according to Diodorus 



Elektra and her two sons, Dardanos 

Cadmus and the dragon, black-figured amphora from Euboea, ca. 560—50 
BC, Louvre (E 707). 

and Eetion or Iasion. There was a fourth figure, 

Elektra's daughter, Harmonia, whom Cadmus took away as a bride, as Zeus had abducted Europa. The 

wedding was the first celebrated on Earth to which the gods brought gifts, according to Diodorus and dined with 

Cadmus and his bride 


Founder of Thebes 

Cadmus came in the course of his wanderings to Delphi, where he consulted the oracle. He was ordered to give up 
his quest and follow a special cow, with a half moon on her flank, which would meet him, and to build a town on the 
spot where she should lie down exhausted. 

The cow was given to Cadmus by Pelagon, King of Phocis, and it guided him to Boeotia, where he founded the city 
of Thebes. Robert Graves (The Greek Myths) suggested that the cow was actually turned loose within a moderately 
confined space, and that where she lay down, a 



temple to the moon-goddess (Selene) was erected: "A cow's strategic and 
commercial sensibilities are not well developed," Graves remarked. 

Intending to sacrifice the cow to Athena, Cadmus sent some of his companions to 
the nearby Castalian Spring, for water. They were slain by the spring's guardian 
water-dragon (compare the Lernaean Hydra), which was in turn destroyed by 
Cadmus, the duty of a culture hero of the new order. 

Lee Lawrie, Cadmus (1939). Library 

of Congress John Adams Building, 

Washington, D.C. 

Cadmus Sowing the Dragon's teeth, by Maxfield 
Parrish, 1908. 

By the instructions of Athena, he sowed the dragon's teeth in the 
ground, from which there sprang a race of fierce armed men, 
called the Spartoi ("sown"). By throwing a stone among them, 
Cadmus caused them to fall upon one another until only five 
survived, who assisted him to build the Cadmeia or citadel of 
Thebes, and became the founders of the noblest families of that 

The dragon had been sacred to Ares, so the god made Cadmus do 
penance for eight years by serving him. According to Theban 
tellings, it was at the expiration of this period that the gods gave 
him Harmonia ("harmony", literally "well put together", or "well 
assembled") as wife. At Thebes, Cadmus and Harmonia began a 
dynasty with a son Polydorus, and four daughters, Agave, 
Autonoe, Ino and Semele. 

At the wedding, whether celebrated at Samothrace or at Thebes, 
all the gods were present; Harmonia received as bridal gifts a 
peplos worked by Athena and a necklace made by Hephaestus. 
This necklace, commonly referred to as the Necklace of Harmonia, 
brought misfortune to all who possessed it. Notwithstanding the 

Cadmus 194 

divinely ordained nature of his marriage and his kingdom, Cadmus lived to regret both: his family was overtaken by 
grievous misfortunes, and his city by civil unrest. Cadmus finally abdicated in favor of his grandson Pentheus, and 
went with Harmonia to Illyria, to fight on the side of the Encheleans Later, as king, he founded the city of 
Lychnidos and Bouthoe. 

Nevertheless, Cadmus was deeply troubled by the ill-fortune which clung to him as a result of his having killed the 
sacred dragon, and one day he remarked that if the gods were so enamoured of the life of a serpent, he might as well 
wish that life for himself. Immediately he began to grow scales and change in form. Harmonia, seeing the 
transformation, thereupon begged the gods to share her husband's fate, which they granted (Hyginus). 

In another telling of the story, the bodies of Cadmus and his wife were changed after their deaths; the serpents 
watched their tomb while their souls were translated to the fields. In Euripides' The Bacchae, Cadmus is given a 
prophecy by Dionysus whereby both he and his wife will be turned into snakes for a period before eventually being 
brought to live among the blest. 

Native Boeotian hero 

In Phoenician, as well as Hebrew, the Semitic root qdm signifies "the east", the Levantine origin of "Kdm" himself, 
according to the Greek mythographers; the equation of Kadmos with the Semitic qdm was traced to a publication of 
1646 by R. B. Edwards. The name Kadmos has been thoroughly Hellenised. The fact that Hermes was 
worshipped in Samothrace under the name of Cadmus or Cadmilus seems to show that the Theban Cadmus was 
interpreted as an ancestral Theban hero corresponding to the Samothracian. Another Samothracian connection for 
Cadmus is offered via his wife Harmonia, who is said by Diodorus Siculus to be daughter of Zeus and Electra and of 


Samothracian birth. 

Some modern scholars argue that Cadmus was originally an autochthonous Boeotian hero and that only in later 
times, did the story of a Phoenician adventurer of that name become current, to whom was ascribed the introduction 
of the alphabet, the invention of agriculture and working in bronze and of civilization generally. The 

"Wedding of Cadmus and Harmonia" is considered as a conceptual symbolic coupling of Eastern (Phoenician) 
learning with Western (Greek) love of beauty. 


Cadmus was of ultimately divine ancestry, the grandson of the sea god Poseidon and Libya on his father's side, and 
of Nilus (the River Nile) on his mother's side; overall he was considered a member of the fifth generation of beings 
following the (mythological) creation of the world: 

Argive genealogy in Greek mythology 

Inachus Melia 

Zeus Io Phoroneus 

Epaphus Memphis 

Libya Poseidon 

Belus Achiroe Agenor Telephassa 

Danaus Pieria Aegyptus Cadmus Cilix Europa Phoenix 

Cadmus 195 

Hypermnestra Lynceus Harmonia Zeus 

Polydorus Sarpedon 

Abas Agave Rhadamanthus 

Acrisius Ino Minos 

Zeus Danae Semele Zeus 

Perseus Dionysus 


With H 

With Harmonia, he was the father of Ino, Polydorus, Autonoe, Agave and Semele. Their youngest son was 



[I] Alden, John B. (1883) The Greek Anthology, pp. 160-162. 

[2] A modern application of genealogy would make him the paternal grandfather of Dionysus, through his daughter by Harmonia, Semele. 

Plutarch once admitted that he would rather be assisted by Lamprias, his own grandfather, than by Dionysus' grandfather, i.e. Cadmus. 

(Symposiacs, Book IX, question II ( 
[3] Herodotus, Histories, Book V, 58 (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Hdt.+5.58&fromdoc=Perseus:text: 1999.01.0126). 
[4] Herodotus. Histories, Book II, 2.145.4 (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999.01. 

[5] Herodotus. Histories, Book V. 59.1 (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Hdt. +5. 59. l&fromdoc=Perseus:text:1999. 01. 

[6] There are several examples of written letters, such as in Nestor's narrative concerning Bellerophon and the "Bellerophontic letter", another 

description of a letter presumably sent to Palamedes from Priam but in fact written by Odysseus (Hyginus. Fabulae, 105 (http://www.theoi. 

com/Text/HyginusFabulae3.html#105)), as well as the letters described by Plutarch in Parallel Lives, Theseus, which were presented to 

Ariadne presumably sent from Theseus. Plutarch goes on to describe how Theseus erected a pillar on the Isthmus of Corinth, which bears an 

inscription of two lines. 
[7] Burkert, The Orientalizing Revolution 1993:26, noting the inscribed Dipylon jug at Athens, the Ischia inscription on the "cup of Nestor", a 

geometric period shard from Naxos and some Euboean material. 
[8] F.M. Ahl. "Cadmus and the Palm-Leaf Tablets." American Journal of Philology 88.2, Apr. 1967, pp. 188-94. 
[9] LSJ entry Ka&iioi; (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0057:entry=*ka/dmos) 
[10] Robert Beekes - Greek Etymological Dictionary (http://www.ieed. nl/cgi-bin/response.cgi?root=leiden&morpho=0& 


[II] The Megaloi theoi of the Mysteries of Samothrace. 

[12] Or known by another lunar name, Argiope, "she of the white face" (Kerenyi 1959:27). 

[13] Diodorus Siculus, 5.48; Clement of Alexandria, to wit Proreptikos 2.13.3. 

[14] Harmonia at Thebes was accounted the daughter of Ares and Aphrodite; all these figures appeared in sculptures on the pediment of the 

Hellenistic main temple in the Sanctuary of the Great Gods at Samothrace, the Hieron; the ancient sources on this family grouping were 

assembled by N. Lewis, Samothrace. I: The Ancient Literary Sources (New York) 1958:24-36. 
[15] Kerenyi (1959) notes that Cadmus in some sense found another Europa at Samothrace, according to an obscure scholium on Euripides' 

Rhesus 29. 
[16] Diodorus, 5.49.1; when the gods attended the later wedding of Peleus and Thetis, the harmony was shattered by the Apple of Discord. 
[17] The full range of references in Antiquity to this wedding is presented by Matia Rocchi, Kadmos e Harmonia: un matrimonio problemmatico 

(Rome: Bretschneider) 1989. 
[18] Apollodorus. Library and Epitome, 3.5.4. 

[19] Pierre Grimal, Pierre, Maxwell-Hyslop, A. R. The Dictionary of Classical Mythology. Blackwell, 1996, ISBN 0-631-20102-5, p. 83. 
[20] Wilkes, J. J. The Illyrians. Blackwell Publishing, 1992, ISBN 0-631-19807-5, p. 99. 

Cadmus 196 

[21] Edwards, Kadmos the Phoenician: A Study in Greek Legends and the Mycenaean Age (Amsterdam 1979), noted by Walter Burkert, The 
Orientalizing Revolution: Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in the Early Bronze Age (Harvard University Press) 1992:2, and note), 
who remarks that the complementary connection oiEuropa with rb, "West" was an ancient one, made by Hesychius. 

[22] Diodorus Siculus 5.48.2 

[23] "There is little doubt that Cadmus was originally a Boeotian, that is, a Greek hero." Encyclopaedia Britannica, 191 1, .v. v. "Cadmus"; Walter 
Burkert, The Orientalizing Revolution ("Introduction") was written in part to lay such notions to rest. 

[24] The argument that nothing in the geography of Boeotia supports an Eastern influence was expressed, before the days of archaeology, by 
Gomme, A. W. (1913), "The Legend of Cadmus and the Logographi", Journal of Hellenic Studies 33: 53-72, 223-245, doi: 10.2307/624086; 
Gomme finds the literary evidence for Cadmus' Phoenician origin first directly expressed by Pherecydes, Herodotus and in a scholium on 
Hellanicus, where in each case it is already assumed as well known. 

[25] Pierre Grimal, Pierre, Maxwell-Hyslop, A. R. The Dictionary of Classical Mythology. Blackwell, 1996, ISBN 0-631-20102-5, p. 83, 230. 

Classical sources 

• Hyginus. Fabulae, 178. 

• Pseudo-Apollodorus. Bibliotheke, III, i, 1-v, 4; 

• Ovid. Metamorphoses, III, 1-137; IV, 563-603. 

• Homer. The Odyssey, 5.333. 

Secondary material 

Theoi Project ( 

Kerenyi, Karl. The Heroes of the Greeks, 1959. 

Vian, F. Les origines de Thebes: Cadmos et les Spartes. Paris, 1963. 

R. B. Edwards. Kadmos, the Phoenician: A Study in Greek Legends and the Mycenaean Age. Amsterdam, 1979. 

T. Gantz. Early Greek Myth., Volume 2, 467-73. 

Matia Rocchi. Kadmos e Harmonia: un matrimonio problemmatico. Rome, Bretschneider, 1989. 

Svetlana Janakieva, "Le My the de Cadmos et 1'aire ethnolinguistique paleobalkanique," Thracia, 1 1, 1995 (= 

Studia in honorem Alexandri Fol. Sofia, 1995). 

• This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (191 1). 
Encyclopaedia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

Further reading 

• Calasso, Roberto (1993). The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0-394-58154-7. 

Castor and Pollux 


Castor and Pollux 

In Greek and Roman mythology, Castor 
and Pollux or Polydeuces were twin 
brothers, together known as the Dioscuri. 
Their mother was Leda, but Castor was the 
mortal son of Tyndareus, king of Sparta, and 
Pollux the divine son of Zeus, who visited 
Leda in the guise of a swan. Though 
accounts of their birth are varied, they are 
sometimes said to have been born from an 
egg, along with their twin sisters Helen of 
Troy and Clytemnestra. 

In Latin the twins are also known as the 

Gemini or Castores. When Castor was 

killed, Pollux asked Zeus to let him share 

his own immortality with his twin to keep 

them together, and they were transformed 

into the constellation Gemini. The pair was regarded as the patrons of sailors, to whom they appeared as St. Elmo's 

fire, and were also associated with horsemanship. 

They are sometimes called the Tyndaridae or Tyndarids, later seen as a reference to their father and stepfather 

Pair of Roman statuettes (3rd century AD) depicting the Dioscuri as horsemen, 
with their characteristic skullcaps (Metropolitan Museum of Art) 

Birth and functions 

The best-known story of the twins' birth is that Zeus disguised himself 
as a swan and raped Leda. Thus Leda's children are frequently said to 
have hatched from two eggs that she then produced. The Dioscuri can 
be recognized in vase-paintings by the skull-cap they wear, the pilos, 
which was explained in antiquity as the remnants of the egg from 


which they hatched. Tyndareus, Leda's mortal husband, is then father 
or foster-father to the children. Whether the children are thus mortal 
and which half-immortal is not consistent among accounts, nor is 
whether the twins hatched together from one egg. In some accounts, 
only Polydeuces was fathered by Zeus, while Leda and her husband 
Tyndareus conceived Castor. This explains why they were granted an 
alternate immortality. It is a common belief that one would live among 
the gods, while the other was among the dead. The figure of Tyndareus 
may have entered their tradition to explain their archaic name 

Tindaridai in Spartan inscriptions or in literature Tyndaridai 
occasioning incompatible accounts of their parentage. 


in turn 

Castor and Polydeuces are sometimes both mortal, sometimes both 
divine. One consistent point is that if only one of them is immortal, it is 

Castor depicted on a calyx krater of ca. 460—450 

BC, holding a horse's reins and spears and 

wearing a pilos-style helmet 

Polydeuces. In Homer's Iliad, Helen looks down from the walls of Troy and wonders why she does not see her 
brothers among the Achaeans. The narrator remarks that they are both already dead and buried back in their 

Castor and Pollux 


homeland of Lacedaemon, thus suggesting that at least in some early traditions, both were mortal. Their death and 
shared immortality offered by Zeus was material of the lost Cypria in the Epic cycle. 

The Dioscuri were regarded as helpers of mankind and held to be patrons of travellers and of sailors in particular, 

who invoked them to seek favourable winds. Their role as horsemen and boxers also led to them being regarded 

as the patrons of athletes and athletic contests. They characteristically intervened at the moment of crisis, aiding 

those who honoured or trusted them 


Classical sources 

Ancient Greek authors tell a number of versions of the story of Castor and Pollux. Homer portrays them initially as 
ordinary mortals, treating them as dead in the Iliad, but in the Odyssey they are treated as alive even though "the 
corn-bearing earth holds them." The author describes them as "having honour equal to gods," living on alternate days 
due to the intervention of Zeus. In both the Odyssey and in Hesiod, they are described as the sons of Tyndareus and 
Leda. In Pindar, Pollux is the son of Zeus while Castor is the son of the mortal Tyndareus. The theme of ambiguous 
parentage is not unique to Castor and Pollux; similar characterisations appear in the stories of Hercules and 
Theseus. The Dioscuri are also invoked in Alcaeus' Fragment 34a , though whether this poem antedates the 
Homeric Hymn to the twins is unknown. They appear together in two plays by Euripides, Helen and Elektra. 

Cicero tells the story of how Simonides of Ceos was rebuked by Scopas, his patron, for devoting too much space to 
praising Castor and Pollux in an ode celebrating Scopas' victory in a chariot race. Shortly afterwards, Simonides was 
told that two young men wished to speak to him; after he had left the banqueting room, the roof fell in and crushed 

Scopas and his guests 



Both Dioscuri were excellent horsemen and hunters who participated in the hunting of the Calydonian Boar and later 
joined the crew of Jason's ship, the Argo. 

As Argonauts 

During the expedition of the Argonauts, Pollux took part in a boxing contest and defeated King Amycus of the 
Bebryces, a savage mythical people in Bithynia. After returning from the voyage, the Dioskouroi helped Jason and 
Peleus to destroy the city of Iolcus in revenge for the treachery of its king Pelias. 

Rescuing Helen 

When their sister Helen was abducted by the legendary Greek king Theseus, they invaded his kingdom of Attica to 
rescue her, abducting Theseus' mother Aethra in revenge and carrying her off to Sparta while setting a rival, 
Menestheus, on the throne of Athens. Aethra was forced to become Helen's slave but was eventually returned to her 
home by her grandsons Demophon and Acamas following the fall of Troy. 

The Leucippides, Lynceus and death 

Castor and Pollux 


Roman sarcophagus (160 AD) depicting the rape of the Leucippides, Phoebe and Hilaeira (Vatican Museum) 

Castor and Pollux aspired to marry the Leucippides ("daughters of the white horse"), Phoebe and Hilaeira, whose 

n 8i 
father was a brother of Leucippus ("white horse"). Although both women were already betrothed to cousins of the 

Dioscuri, the twin brothers Lynceus and Idas of Thebes, sons of Tyndareus's brother Aphareus. Castor and Pollux 

carried the women off to Sparta, where Phoebe bore Mnesileos to Pollux and Hilaeira bore Anogon to Castor. This 

began a feud among the four cousins. 

The cousins carried out a cattle-raid in Arcadia together but fell out 
over the division of the meat. After stealing the herd, but before 


dividing it, the cousins butchered, quartered, and roasted a calf. As 
they prepared to eat, the gigantic Idas suggested that the herd be 
divided into two parts instead of four, based on which pair of cousins 

ri9i ri9i 

finished their meal first. Castor and Pollux agreed. Idas quickly 


ate both his portion and Lynceus' portion. Castor and Pollux had 
been duped. They allowed their cousins to take the entire herd, but 




^^H^H "■* _^^^M 



1 , 

vowed to someday take revenge 


Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus by Rubens, 
ca. 1618 

Some time later, Idas and Lynceus visited their uncle's home in 


Sparta. The uncle was on his way to Crete, so he left Helen in 
charge of entertaining the guests, which included both sets of cousins, 


as well as Paris, prince of Troy. Castor and Pollux recognized the 
opportunity to exact revenge, made an excuse that justified leaving the 


feast, and set out to steal their cousins' herd. Idas and Lynceus 

eventually set out for home, leaving Helen alone with Paris, who then kidnapped Helen 
helped set into motion the events that gave rise to the Trojan War. 


Thus, the four cousins 

Meanwhile, Castor and Pollux had reached their destination. Castor climbed a tree to keep a watch as Pollux began 
to free the cattle. Far away, Idas and Lynceus approached. Lynceus, named for the lynx because he could see in the 


dark, spied Castor hiding in the tree. Idas and Lynceus immediately understood what was happening. Idas, 
furious, ambushed Castor, fatally wounding him with a blow from his spear — but not before Castor called out to 


warn Pollux. In the ensuing brawl, Pollux killed Lynceus. As Idas was about to kill Pollux, Zeus, who had been 

watching from Mt. Olympus, hurled a thunderbolt, killing Idas and saving his son. 

Returning to the dying Castor, Pollux was given the choice by Zeus of spending all his time on Mount Olympus or 
giving half his immortality to his mortal brother. He opted for the latter (so giving half his immortality to Castor), 
enabling the twins to alternate between Olympus and Hades. The brothers became the two brightest stars in 

the constellation Gemini ("the twins"): Castor (Alpha Geminorum) and Pollux (Beta Geminorum). As emblems of 

immortality and death, the Dioscuri, like Heracles, were said to have been initiated into the Eleusinian mysteries 


Castor and Pollux 



Castor and Pollux are consistently associated with horses in art and 
literature. They are widely depicted as helmeted horsemen carrying 
spears. The Pseudo-Oppian manuscript depicts the brothers hunting, 

both on horseback and on foot 



On votive reliefs they are depicted with a variety of symbols 
representing the concept of twinhood, such as the dokana (6oKava — 
two upright piece of wood connected by two cross-beams), a pair of 
amphorae, a pair of shields, or a pair of snakes. They are also often 
shown wearing felt caps, above which stars may be depicted. They are 
depicted on metopes from Delphi showing them on the voyage of the 
Argo (Apyco) and rustling cattle with Idas. Greek vases regularly show 
them in the rape of the Leucippides, as Argonauts, in religious 


ceremonies and at the delivery to Leda of the egg containing Helen. 

They can be recognized in some vase-paintings by the skull-cap they wear, the pilos (mXoq), which was already 

explained in antiquity as the remnants of the egg from which they hatched. 

Coin of Antiochus VII with Dioscuri 

Shrines and rites 

Fragmentary remains of the Temple of Castor and 
Pollux in Rome. 

The Dioskouroi were worshipped by the Greeks and Romans alike; 
there were temples to the twins in Athens and Rome as well as shrines 
in many other locations in the ancient world. 

The Dioscuri and their sisters having grown up in Sparta, in the royal 
household of Tyndareus, they were particularly important to the 
Spartans, who associated them with the Spartan tradition of dual 
kingship and appreciated that two princes of their ruling house were 
elevated to immortality. Their connection there was very ancient: a 
uniquely Spartan aniconic representation of the Tyndaridai was as two 
upright posts joined by a cross-bar; as the protectors of the 

Spartan army the "beam figure" or dokana was carried in front of the 


army on campaign. Sparta's unique dual kingship reflects the divine 
influence of the Dioscuri. When the Spartan army marched to war, one 

king remained behind at home, accompanied by one of the Twins. "In 

this way the real political order is secured in the realm of the Gods' . 

Their heroon or grave-shrine was on a mountain top at Therapne across 
the Eurotas from Sparta, at a shrine known as the Meneldeion where 
Helen, Melelaus, Castor and Pollux were all said to be buried. Castor 
himself was also venerated in the region of Kastoria in northern 

Castor and Pollux 


They were commemorated both as gods on Olympus worthy of 
holocaust, and as deceased mortals in Hades, whose spirits had to be 
propitiated by libations. Lesser shrines to Castor, Pollux and Helen 
were also established at a number of other locations around Sparta. 
The pear tree was regarded by the Spartans as sacred to Castor and 
Pollux, and images of the twins were hung in its branches. The 
standard Spartan oath was to swear "by the two gods" (in Doric Greek: 
va to) Geo), nd to thed, in the Dual number). 

The rite of theoxenia (Oeo^evloc), "god-entertaining", was particularly 
associated with Castor and Pollux. The two deities were summoned to 
a table laid with food, whether at individuals' own homes or in the 
public hearths or equivalent places controlled by states. They are 
sometimes shown arriving at a gallop over a food-laden table. 
Although such "table offerings" were a fairly common feature of Greek 
cult rituals, they were normally made in the shrines of the gods or 
heroes concerned. The domestic setting of the theoxenia was a 


characteristic distinction accorded to the Dioskouroi. 

The image of the twins attending a goddess are widespread and link 

the Dioscuri with the male societies of initiates under the aegis of the 

Anatolian Great Goddess and the great gods of Samothrace. The 

Dioscuri are the inventors of war dances, which characterize the Kuretes. 

Relief (2nd century BC) depicting the Dioscuri 

galloping above a winged Victory, with a banquet 

(theoxenia) laid out for them below 

Indo-European analogues 

The heavenly twins appear also in the Indo-European tradition as the effulgent Vedic brother-horsemen the 
Ashvins, the Lithuanian Asvieniai, and the Germanic Alcis. 

Italy and the Roman Empire 

From the fifth century BC onwards, the brothers were revered by the Romans, probably as the result of cultural 
transmission via the Greek colonies of Magna Graecia in southern Italy. An archaic Latin inscription of the sixth or 
fifth century BC found at Lavinium, which reads Castorei Podlouqueique qurois ("To Castor and Pollux, the 
Dioskouroi"), suggests a direct transmission from the Greeks; the word "qurois" is virtually a transliteration of the 
Greek word tcovgotg, while "Podlouquei" is effectively a transliteration of the Greek IIolvdevKrjg. The 
construction of the Temple of Castor and Pollux, located in the Roman Forum at the heart of their city, was 
undertaken to fulfil a vow (votum) made by Aulus Postumius Albus Regillensis in gratitude at the Roman victory in 

the Battle of Lake Regillus in 495 BC. The establishing of the temple may also be a form of evocatio, the transferral 

of a tutelary deity from a defeated town to Rome, where cult would be offered in exchange for favor. According 

to legend, the twins fought at the head of the Roman army and subsequently brought news of the victory back to 

Rome. The Locrians of Magna Graecia had attributed their success at a legendary battle on the banks of the 

Sagras to the intervention of the Twins. The Roman legend may in fact have had its origins in the Locrian account 


and possibly supplies further evidence of cultural transmission between Rome and Magna Graecia. 

The Romans believed that the twins aided them on the battlefield. Their role as horsemen made them particularly 
attractive to the Roman equites and cavalry. Each year on July 15, the feast day of the Dioskouroi, the 1,800 
equestrians would parade through the streets of Rome in an elaborate spectacle in which each rider wore full military 

attire and whatever decorations he had earned 


In the comedies of Plautus, women swear by Castor, and men by Pollux. 

Castor and Pollux 


Etruscan Kastur and Pultuce 

The Etruscans venerated the twins as Kastur and Pultuce, collectively 
the Unas cliniiaras, "sons of Tinia," the Etruscan counterpart of Zeus. 
They were often portrayed on Etruscan mirrors. As was the fashion 
in Greece, they could also be portrayed symbolically; one example can 
be seen in the Tomba del Letto Funebre at Tarquinia where a 
lectisternium for them is painted. They are symbolised in the painting 
by the presence of two pointed caps crowned with laurel, referring to 
the Phrygian caps which they were often depicted as wearing. 

Celtic Dioscuri 

The lst-century BC historian Diodorus Siculus records counterparts of 
the Dioscuri among the Atlantic Celts: 

The Celts who dwell along the ocean venerate gods who 

resemble our Dioscuri above any of the gods, since they have a 

tradition handed down from ancient times that these gods came among them from the ocean. Moreover, there 

are on the ocean shore, they say, many names which are derived from the Argonauts and the Dioscuri 

Etruscan inscription to the Dioscuri as "sons of 

Zeus" on the bottom of an Attic red-figure kylix 

(ca. 515-510 BC) 


Diodorus cites Timaeus (3rd century BC) as his source, so the passage is usually regarded as a description of an 

[431 [441 

authentic Celtic tradition rather than an adoption from the Romans as a result of the conquest. The divine 

twins among the Celts would be analogous in the Indo-European tradition to the Vedic Asvins, or to the Germanic 

twins mentioned by Tacitus. Their Celtic names are unknown; the conjecture Divanno and Dinomogetimarus, 

based on an inscription from Herault naming a pair of young warrior gods (Martes), has not found wide 

support. The 19th-century Celticist Marie Henri dArbois de Jubainville equated Cernunnos with Castor and 

Smertullos with Pollux, and conjectured that Cuchulainn and Conall Cernach were later equivalents: "on the whole, 

the theory is more ingenious than convincing." The Pillar of the Boatmen depicts the twins among Celtic 

figures such as Cernunnos and Esus, as well as Roman deities such as Jupiter and Vulcan. The Dioscuri are 

widely portrayed in Gallo-Roman art, and references to them are more numerous in Gaul than in any other part of the 

Roman Empire 


Castor and Pollux 



Even after the rise of Christianity, the Dioskouroi 
continued to be venerated. The fifth-century pope 
Gelasius I attested to the presence of a "cult of 
Castores" that the people did not want to abandon. 
In some instances, the twins appear to have simply 
been absorbed into a Christian framework; thus 
fourth-century AD pottery and carvings from 
North Africa depict the Dioskouroi alongside the 
Twelve Apostles, the Raising of Lazarus or with 
Saint Peter. The church took an ambivalent 
attitude, rejecting the immortality of the 
Dioskouroi but seeking to replace them with 
equivalent Christian pairs. Saints Peter and Paul 
were thus adopted in place of the Dioskouroi as 
patrons of travelers, and Saints Cosmas and 
Damian took over their function as healers. Some 
have also associated Saints Speusippus, 
Eleusippus, and Melapsippus with the 



Zeus, Hera, and Amor observe the birth of Helen and the Dioscuri (Dutch 
majolica, 1550) 

In culture 

The twins are mentioned in the Holy Bible as being the logo for a shipping company that carried Paul to Rome: Acts 
28:11 (KJV) — "And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose 
sign was Castor and Pollux." 

Castor et Pollux was the title of a 1737 opera by Jean-Philippe Rameau (libretto by Bernard), modified in 1754. The 
latter version became quite popular. The Italian composer Francesco Bianchi wrote another version called Castore e 
Polluce, first performed in 1779, and there was yet another opera by the same title by Georg Joseph Vogler in 1787. 

In 1842 Lord Macaulay wrote a series of poems about Ancient Rome (the Lays of Ancient Rome). The second poem 
is about the Battle of Lake Regillus and describes the intervention of Castor and Pollux. They are referred to as the 
"Great Twin Brethren" in the poem. 

Castor and Pollux (elephants) were killed and eaten during the 1870 Prussian siege of Paris. 

There are at least four sets of twin summits named after Castor and Pollux. In Yellowstone National Park in 
Wyoming, USA, the peaks are found close to the headwaters of the Lamar River in the Absaroka Range. Another 
pair is located in the Pennine Alps at the Swiss-Italian border. A third is in Glacier National Park of western Canada, 
within the Selkirk mountains. The fourth is in Mount Aspiring National Park of New Zealand, named by the explorer 
Charlie Douglas. 

Castor and Pollux are characters that appear in a few of Robert A. Heinlein's books. 

Castor Troy and Pollux Troy are villains (brothers) that appear in the 1997 film Face/Off. 

Castor and Pollux are twin cameramen in the final book of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games trilogy. Like in the 
myth, Castor was killed and Pollux survived. 

Also, in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians fantasy series of novels series, Dionysus' twin sons are named Castor 
and Pollux. In the fourth book of the series Castor is killed in the battle, thus following the story of one passing and 
the other living. 

Castor and Pollux 


The character Sollux Captor's name of Andrew Hussie's Homestuck was based on Castor and Pollux, mostly due to 
the fact that the two stars with the same name are in the constellation Gemini. 

The band Cursive released an rock-opera album called "I Am Gemini" in 2012 about a set of twins called Cassius 
and Pollock. 

In Persona 3 Pollux (Polydeuces) and Castor appear as the Personae of Akihiko Sanada and Shinjiro Aragaki 
respectively, who are good friends. Shinjiro is killed, following the myth. 


[1] /'kaestar/; Latin: Castor, Greek: Kaoxmp Kastor "beaver" 

[2] /'pDleks/; Latin: Pollux 

[3] ^prjk'djuisiiz/; Greek: IIo^dSeijkiii; Poludeukes "much sweet wine" 

Bloomsbury (1996), "Dioscuri", Dictionary of Myth, London: Bloomsbury Publishing 

[4] /dal'Dskj9ral/; Latin: Dioscuri; Greek: AtooKoupot Dioskouroi "sons of Zeus" 

[5] /'d3Smfnal/; "twins" 

[6] /'kaestariiz/ 

[7] /tln'dendi:/or /'tlndendz/; Txivoaptoou, Tundaridai 

[8] Scholiast, LycophroriKerenyi 1959, p. 107 note 584. 

[9] The familiar theme in Greek mythology of the mixed seed of a mortal and an immortal father is played out in various ways: compare Theseus. 











Burkert 1985, p. 212 

Cotterell, Arthur (1997), "Dioscuri", A Dictionary' of World Mythology, Oxford University Press. 

Howatson, MC; Chilvers, Ian, eds. (1996), The Concise Oxford Companion to Classical Literature, Oxford University Press. 

Roberts, John, ed. (2007), "Dioscuri", Dictionary of the Classical World, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Parker, Robert Christopher Towneley (2003), "Dioscuri", in Hornblower, Simon; Spawforth, Anthony, The Oxford Classical Dictionary, 
Oxford University Press. 

of Mytilene, Alcaeus (2011), "Fragment 34a" ( 
(World Wide Web log), Toutcoule, Google, . 

Homer, Hymn (http://www.theoi.eom/Text/HomericHymns3.html#33), Theoi, . 

Campbell, David (1967), Greek Lyric Poetry, Bristol: Classical Press. 

Phoebe ("the pure") is a familiar epithet of the moon, Selene; her twin's name Hilaeira ("the serene") is also a lunar attribute, their names 
appropriate selectively to the new and the full moon"Kerenyi 1959, p. 109. 

Stratikis, Potis (1987), Greek Mythology, B, pp. 20-23. 

"Dioscuri." Encyclopedia Britannica. 2008. 

Routledge (2002), "Castor and Polydeuces", Who's Who in Classical Mythology, London: Routledge. 

In the oration of the Athenian peace emissary sent to Sparta in 371, according to Xenophon (Hellenica VI), it was asserted that "these three 
heroes were the first strangers upon whom this gift was bestowed. "Kerenyi, Karl (1967), Eleusis: Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter, 
Princeton: Bollingen, p. 122. 

Kazhdan, Alexander; Talbot, Alice-Mary (1991), "Dioskouroi", in Kazhdan, Alexander P, The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford 
University Press. 

Scholiast, LycophronKevenyi 1959, p. 107 note 584. 

Browning, WRF (1997), "Dioscuri", A Dictionary' of the Bible, Oxford University Press. 

Burkert 1985 

Kerenyi 1959, p. 107 

Sekunda, Nicholas 'Nick' Victor; Hook, Richard (1998), The Spartan Army, Osprey Publishing, p. 53, ISBN 1-85532-659-0. 

Burkert, p. 212 

Pomeroy, Sarah B (2002), Spartan Women, US: Oxford University Press, p. 1 14, ISBN 0-19-513067-7. 

Davenport, Guy (1999), Objects on a Table: Harmonious Disarray in Art and Literature, Basic Books, p. 63, ISBN 1-58243-035-7. 

Kerenyi draws attention especially to the rock carvings in the town of Akrai, SicilyKerenyi 1959, p. 111. 

Chapouthier, Fernand (1935), Les Dioscures au service d'une deesseBurkert 1985, p. 212. 

Tacitus, Germania 43. 

Maier 1997, p. 96 

Beard, Mary; North, John; Price, Simon (1998), Religions of Rome, 1. A History, Cambridge University Press, p. 21, ISBN 0-521-45646-0. 

Smith, Christopher (2007), "The Religion of Archaic Rome", A Companion to Roman Religion, Blackwell, p. 37. 

Mommsen, Theodor (2004), The History of Rome, II, p. 191, ISBN 1-4191-6625-5. 

McDonnell, Myles Anthony (2006), Roman Manliness, Cambridge University Press, p. 187, ISBN 0-521-82788-4. 

Bonfante, Giuliano; Bonfante, Larissa (2002), The Etruscan Language, Manchester University Press, p. 204, ISBN 0-7190-5540-7. 

Castor and Pollux 205 

[41] de Grummond, Nancy Thomson; Simon, Erika (2006), The Religion of the Etruscans, University of Texas Press, p. 60, 

ISBN 0-292-70687-1. 
[42] Diodorus Siculus 4.56.4. 

[43] American, African, and Old European Mythologies, p. 201. 
[44] Koch, Philip (2006), "Greek and Roman Accounts of the Ancient Celts", in John, Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia, ABC-Clio, 

p. 849. 
[45] Tacitus, Germania 43. 

[46] CIL XII.4218Maier, Bernhard (2004), Die Religion der Kelten: Cotter, Mythen, Weltbild, CH Beck, p. 195. 
[47] The Religion of the Ancient Celts, Dover, 2003 [191 1]. 

[48] Rankin, David (1996), Celts and the Classical World, Routledge, p. 82 repeats the possible identification with Cernunnos and Smertullus. 
[49] McKillop, James (1998), "Dioscuri", A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology, Oxford University Press. 
[50] Macaulay, Thomas Babbington. "The Battle of Lake Regillus" ( The other pages. . 

Retrieved 2012-03-27. 


• Ringleben, Joachim, "An Interpretation of the 10th Nemean Ode" ( 
html?http://www., Ars Disputandi, Douglas Hedley and Russell 
Manning, transl. Pindar's themes of the unequal brothers and faithfulness and salvation, with the Christian 
parallels in the dual nature of Christ. 

• Burkert, Walter (1985), Greek Religion, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, pp. 212—13. 

• Kerenyi, Karl (1959), The Heroes of the Greeks, pp. 105—12 et passim. 

• Maier, Bernhard (1997), Dictionary of Celtic Religion and Culture, Boydell & Brewer. 

• Pindar, Tenth Nemean Ode. 

• "Dioskouroi" (, Ouranios, Theoi Project. Excerpts in 
English of classical sources. 

Erginus 206 


Miletus, thus a distinct figure. Yet others suggested he was a son of Periclymenus. 

In Greek mythology, Erginus ('Epylvoi;) was king of Minyan Orchomenus in Boeotia. He was the son of Clymenus, 
his predecessor, and Buzyge (or Budeia); his brothers were Arrhon, Azeus, Pyleus, and Stratius. Erginus 

avenged his father's death at the hands of the Thebans; he made war against Thebes, inflicting a heavy defeat. The 
Thebans were compelled to pay King Erginus a tribute of 100 oxen per year for twenty years. However, the tribute 
ended earlier than Erginus expected, when Heracles attacked the Minyan emissaries sent to exact the tribute. This 
prompted a second war between Orchomenus and Thebes, only this time Thebes (under the leadership of Heracles) 

was victorious, and a double tribute was imposed on the Orchomenians. Erginus was slain in battle according 

to the version of the story given by most ancient writers (e.g., the Bibliotheca, Strabo, Eustathius). But according 

to Pausanias, Erginus was spared by Heracles and lived to a ripe old age, and even fathered two sons (Trophonius 


and Agamedes) on a younger woman. 

Some authors identify him with Erginus, an Argonaut who piloted the Argo after Tiphys's death. Elsewhere, 
however, the Argonaut Erginus is said to be the son of Poseidon, and to have resided in the Carian city of 
Miletus, [11][12][13][14] thusadis 

Erginus was also the name of: 

• A defender of Thebes against the Seven, killed by Hippomedon. 

• A descendant of Diomedes, who was instructed by Temenus to steal the Palladium from Argos and did so 


together with Leager, a friend of Temenus'. 


[I] Scholia on Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 1. 185 
[2] Eustathius on Homer, 1076. 26 
[3] Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9. 37. 1 
[4] Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.4. 11 
[5] Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 4. 10. 3—5 
[6] Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9. 37. 2 
[7] Strabo, Geography, 9. 2. 40 
[8] Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9. 37. 4 
[9] Pindar, Olympian Ode 4. 19 
[10] Scholia on Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 2. 895; Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica, 5. 65 & 8. 177 

[II] Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 1. 185; 2. 896 
[12] Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica, 1. 415 
[13] Argonautica Orphica, 150 
[14] Scholia on Pindar, Pythian Ode 4. 61 
[15] Hyginus, Fabulae, 14 
[16] Statius, Thebaid, 9. 305 
[17] Plutarch, Quaestiones Graecae, 48 

Euphemus 207 


Euphemus (Ancient Greek: Ei5(pr||io<;, pronounced: [eUp h e:mos] "reputable") in Greek mythology was the name of 
several distinct characters. 

The Argonaut 

Euphemus was a son of Poseidon, granted by his father the power to walk on water. He was counted among the 
Calydonian hunters and the Argonauts, and was connected with the legend of the foundation of Cyrene. 
Euphemus's mother is variously named: Europe, daughter of the giant Tityos; Doris or Mecionice, daughter of 

either Eurotas or Orion. In some accounts he is said to have been married to Laonome, sister of 

Heracles. His birthplace is given as "the banks of the Cephissus" by Pindar or Hyria in Boeotia by the 

Megalai Ehoiai, but his later residence was Taenarum in Laconia. Euphemus joined the voyage of the 

Argonauts, and served the crew as helmsman. He let a dove fly between the Symplegades to see if the ship 

would be able to pass as well. By a Lemnian woman (Malicha, Malache, or Lamache) he became the father of 

Euphemus was mythologically linked to the Greek colonization of Libya and foundation of Cyrene. In Pindar's 
Pythian Ode 4, the myth of him as the ancestor of the colonizers is recounted in the form of a prophecy by Medea, 
and runs as follows. When the Argonauts stop by the lake Tritonis in Libya, they encounter Eurypylus, a son of 
Poseidon, who offers them a clod of earth as a sign of hospitality. Euphemus takes the clod with instructions to 
throw it on the ground beside the entrance to the Underworld at Taenarum by which his descendants in the fourth 
generation would then rule over Libya. The clod is accidentally washed overboard and carried to the island Thera, 
and Libya is colonized from that island by Battus of Thera, an alleged distant descendant of Euphemus (by 17 
generations), who founds Cyrene. The Argonautica by Apollonius Rhodius appears to follow a different 

version of the same myth: in the poem, when the Argonauts arrive near Lake Tritonis, Euphemus accepts the clod of 
earth from Triton who first introduces himself as Eurypylus but later reveals his true divine identity. Later, 
Euphemus has a dream of the clod producing drops of milk and then changing into a woman; in his dream, he has 
sex with the woman, and at the same time cries over her as if she were nursed by him; she then tells him that she is a 
daughter of Triton and Libya and the nurse of future children of Euphemus, and instructs him to entrust her to the 
care of the Nereids, promising that she would return in the future to provide a home for Euphemus' children. 
Euphemus consults Jason about this dream and, following his advice, throws the clod in the sea, whereupon it 

transforms into the island Calliste (Thera). The island is later colonized by the descendants of Euphemus who had 

previously been expelled from Lemnos and failed to find refuge in Sparta. 

Euphemus was portrayed on the chest of Cypselus as the winner of the chariot race at the funeral games of Pelias. 

The Iliad 

[231 [24] 

In the Iliad, Euphemus, son of Troezenus, was a leader of the Thracian Cicones, and an ally of the Trojans. 

According to late writers, he was killed either by Achilles or by one of the following four: Diomedes, Idomeneus 

and the two Ajaxes who at one point united to attack the opponents. 

Other mythical figures 

• Euphemus was a descendant of the river god Axius and the father of the hero Eurybarus who defeated the female 
monster Sybaris. 

• Euphemus was a surname of Zeus on Lesbos. 


• Euphemus is given as the father of Daedalus by Hyginus, possibly by mistake instead of Eupalamus. 



Notes and references 

[1] Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 1. 182 

[2] Hyginus, Fabulae, 14 

[3] Hyginus, Fabulae, 173 

[4] Emily Kearns, "Euphemus", in Simon Hornblower and Anthony Spawforth (editors), The Oxford Classical Dictionary, Oxford University 

Press 2009. 
[5] Judith Maitland, "Poseidon, Walls, and Narrative Complexity in the Homeric Iliad", The Classical Quarterly, New Series, Vol 49, No 1 

(1999), pp 1-13 atp 13, JSTOR 639485 accessed 23 November 2011. 
[6] Pindar, Pythian ode 4. 45 

[7] Hesiod, Megalai Ehoiai fr. 253 Merkelhach & West (1967) in scholia on Pindar, Pythian Ode 4. 35 
[8] Tzetzes on Lycophron, 886 
[9] Tzetzes, Chiliades 2. 43 




Scholia on Pindar, Pythian Ode 4. 76 
Pindar, Pythia 4.46. 

Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 1. 179 
Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica, 1. 365 
Argonautica Orphica, 205 
Pindar, Pythian Ode 4. 22 
Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 2. 536—562 
Scholia on Pindar, Pythian Ode 4. 45 
Pindar, Pythian Ode 4. 14-56 
Herodotus, Histories, 4. 150 
Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 4. 1551—1562 
Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 4. 1731—1764 
Pausanias, Description of Greece, 5. 17. 9 
Homer, Iliad, 2. 846 

T. W. Allen, "The Homeric Catalogue", The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol 30 (1910), pp 292-322 at p 314 JSTOR 624307 accessed 23 
November 2011. 
Dares Phrygius, 21 
Dictys Cretensis, 2. 43 
Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses, 8 
Hesychius of Alexandria s. v. Euphemos 
Hyginus, Fabulae, 39 


• Merkelbach, R.; West, M.L. (1967), Fragmenta Hesiodea, Oxford, ISBN 0-19-814171-8. 

Euryalus 209 


Euryalus (Ancient Greek: EiJpiJaXcx;) refers to several different characters from Greek mythology and classical 

1. In the Aeneid by Virgil, Nisus and Euryalus are ideal friends and lovers, who died during a raid on the 
Rutulians. [2][3] 

2. Euryalus was the son of Mecisteus. He attacked the city of Thebes as one of the Epigoni, who took the city and 
avenged the deaths of their fathers, who had also attempted to invade Thebes. In Homer's Iliad, he fought in the 
Trojan War, where he was brother-in-arms of Diomedes, and one of the Greeks to enter the Trojan Horse. He lost 
the boxing match to Epeius at the funeral games for Patrocles. He is mentioned by Hyginus, who gives his 
parents as Pallas and Diomede. 

3. Euryalus was the name of a son of Euippe and Odysseus, who was mistakenly slain by his father. 

4. Euryalus was the name of two of Penelope's suitors, one of whom came from Zacynthus, and the other one from 



5. Euryalus was a suitor of Hippodamia who, like all the suitors before Pelops, was killed by Oenomaus. 

6. Euryalus was one of the eight sons of Melas, who plotted against their uncle Oeneus and were slain by 

7. Euryalus, son of Naubolus, was one of the Phaeacians encountered by Odysseus in the Odyssey. 


8. Euryalus was a surname of Apollo. 

Euryalus, son of Naubolus 

In the Odyssey, Euryalus is a Phaeacian youth. Homer gives him the epithet "the peer of murderous Ares". Next to 
Laodamas, he is said to be the most handsome of the Phaeacians, and is the best wrestler. He convinces Laodamas to 
challenge Odysseus, then rebukes him when he refuses to participate, saying "No truly, stranger, nor do I think thee 
at all like one that is skilled in games, whereof there are many among men, rather art thou such an one as comes and 
goes in a benched ship, a master of sailors that are merchantmen, one with a memory for his freight, or that hath the 
charge of a cargo homeward bound, and of greedily gotten gains; thou seemest not a man of thy hands." When King 
Alcinous orders him to make amends, he gives Odysseus a bronze sword with a silver hilt and an ivory sheath. 


[I] Virgil. Aeneid, V.294. 

[2] Virgil. Aeneid, IX. 179-43 1 . 

[3] Dictionary of Classical Mythology. London: Penguin. 1990. p. 147. ISBN 978-0-14-051235-9. 

[4] Homer; Trans. Stanley Lombardo (1997). Iliad. Hackett. ISBN 978-0-87220-352-5. 23.704-719. 

[5] Hyginus, Fabulae, 97 

[6] Sophocles, Euryalus (survived in fragments) 

[7] Parthenius of Nicaea; S. Gaselee (trans.) (1916). Love Romances (http://www.theoi.eom/Text/Parthenius.html#3). Loeb, Harvard UP. . 

[8] Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, Epitome of Book 4, 7. 26 - 30 

[9] Pausanias, Description of Greece, 6. 21. 10 

[10] Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 8. 5 

[II] Butcher, SH and Lang, A: The Odyssey of Homer, Project Gutenberg 
[12] Hesychius of Alexandria s. v. Euryalos 




In classical mythology, Hylas (Greek: 
"TXac,') was a youth who served as a 
companion of Heracles (Roman 
Hercules). His abduction by water 
nymphs was a theme of ancient art, 
and has been an enduring subject for 
Western art in the classical tradition. 


In Greek mythology, Hylas was the 

son of King Theiodamas of the 

Dryopians. Roman sources such as 

Ovid state that Hylas' father was 

Hercules and his mother was the 

nymph Melite, or that his mother was the wife of Theiodamas, whose adulterous affair with Heracles caused the war 

between him and her husband. He gained his beauty from his divine mother and his military prowess from his 

demigod father. 

After Heracles killed Theiodamas in battle, he took on Hylas as arms bearer and taught him to be a warrior. The poet 
Theocritus (about 300 BC) wrote about the love between Heracles and Hylas: "We are not the first mortals to see 
beauty in what is beautiful. No, even Amphitryon's bronze-hearted son, who defeated the savage Nemean lion, loved 
a boy — charming Hylas, whose hair hung down in curls. And like a father with a dear son he taught him all the 
things which had made him a mighty man, and famous." 


Heracles took Hylas with him on the Argo, making him one of the Argonauts. Hylas was kidnapped by nymphs of 
the spring of Pegae, (Dryope), that fell in love with him in Mysia and vanished without a trace (Apollonios Rhodios). 
This upset Heracles greatly, so he along with Polyphemus searched for a great length of time. The ship set sail 
without them. According to the Latin Argonautica of Valerius Flaccus, he never found Hylas because he had fallen 
in love with the nymphs and remained "to share their power and their love." 



Cultural references 

The story of Hylas and the nymphs is alluded to in Book 3 of Edmund 
Spenser's The Faerie Queene, Canto XII, Stanza 7: 

Or that same daintie lad, which was so deare 

To great Alcides, that when as he dyde 

He wailed womanlike with many a teare, 

And every wood, and every valley wyde 

He fild with Hylas name; the Nymphes eke "Hylas" cryde. 

Hylas is also mentioned in Christopher Marlowe's play Edward II: 
"Not Hylas was more mourned for of Hercules / Than thou hast been of 
me since thy exile" (Act I, Scene I, line 142-3), and in Oscar Wilde's 
The Picture of Dorian Gray, Chapter 11. "...and gilded a boy that he 
might serve at the feast as Ganymede or Hylas." 

"Hylas" is the name of one of the two characters in George Berkeley's 

Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous. He represents the materialist position against which Berkeley 

(through Philonous) argues. In this context, the name is derived from vk\\, the classical Greek term for "matter." 

Hylas and nymphs from a mosaic in Roman Gaul 
(3rd century) 


[1] For a perspective from gay literary history, see The World History of Male Love: Greek Mythology, "Hercules and Hylas." (http://www. 
hercules-hylas-gay.html) See also Pederasty in ancient Greece on the historical social institution. 

External links 

• Berkeley's Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous 

• ( 

• ( 

• ( 




In Greek mythology, Idas (Ancient Greek: 
"ISaq Idas) was a son of Aphareus and Arene 
and brother of Lynceus. He and Lynceus loved 
Hilaeira and Phoebe and fought with their rival 
suitors, Castor and Polydeuces, killing the mortal 
brother Castor. He was also one of the 
Argonauts and a participant in the hunt for the 
Calydonian Boar. He kidnapped Marpessa. 
Apollo also desired her and Zeus made the girl 
choose. She chose the mortal Idas, fearing that 
Apollo could abandon her when she grew old. 
With Marpessa, Idas had one daughter named 




Marpessa and Idas, separated of Apollo by Zeus, Attic red-figure psykter, ca. 
480 BC, Staatliche Antikensammlungen (Inv. 2417). 

[1] Greek Myth Index: Idas (http://www.mythindex.eom/greek-mythology/I/Idas.html) 


In Greek mythology, Idmon was an Argonaut seer. His father is said to have been Apollo but his mortal father was 
Abas (or Ampycus). His mother was Asteria, daughter of Coronus, or Cyrene, or else Antianeira, daughter of Pheres. 
By Laothoe he had a son Thestor. Idmon foresaw his own death in the Argonaut expedition but joined anyway 

and was killed by a boar in the land of the Mariandyni, in Bithynia. When in 559 BC the citizens of Megara 

Heraclea (today's Eregli), they built a temple over the spot he was buried. 

Other characters 

The name Idmon may also refer to: 

• One of the fifty sons of Aegyptus, who married and was killed by the Danaid Pylarge 


The father of Arachne 
The herald of Turnus 


A figure briefly mentioned in Statius' Thebaic!. He came from Epidaurus and was portrayed in the poem cleansing 

his wounds after a battle 





[1] Hyginus, Fabulae, 14 

[2] Scholia on Argonautica, 1. 39 

[3] Argonautica Orphica, 185—187; 721 

[4] Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 2.815—834 

[5] Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 9. 23 

[6] Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 1. 5 

[7] Ovid, Metamorphoses, 6. 8 

[8] Virgil, Aeneid, 12.75 

[9] Statius, Thebaid, 3. 339 


• Grimal, Pierre. Entry for Idmon. (http://books. google. com/books ?vid=ISBN0631201025& 
sig=4ayU373TgpN7bf_Qq8jmilktZsk) The Dictionary of Classical Mythology. Blackwell, 1986. ISBN 

• Seaton, R.C. (editor and translator). Apollonius Rhodius: Argonautica. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard 
University Press, 1912. 

• William Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, v. 2, page 562, under Idmon (http:// 
ww w . ancientlibrary .com/smith-bio/ 1670. html) 


For the butterfly genus, see Iolaus (butterfly). 

For the place on the List of National Heritage Sites in Jamaica, see Iolaus, Jamaica. 
In Greek mythology, Iolaus (in Greek, ';,r^:-z±£Z~^ZZ^3*KJ'.)JM & i PT-XTt ^'* '^* 

'IoXaoQ) was a Theban divine hero, son of 
Iphicles, Heracles's nephew, and brother 
to Automedusa. 

He was famed for being Heracles's 
nephew and for helping with some of his 
Labors, and also for being one of the 
Argonauts. Through his daughter 
Leipephilene he was considered to have 
fathered the mythic and historic line of the 
kings of Corinth, ending with Telestes. 

A genus of Lycaenid butterfly has been 
named after him. 

Relationship with Heracles 

Heracles and his nephew, Iolaus. 1st century BC mosaic from the Anzio Nymphaeum, 


As a son of Iphicles, Iolaus was a nephew 

of Heracles. He often acted as Heracles' charioteer and companion. He was popularly regarded as Heracles's lover, 

and the shrine to him in Thebes was a place where male couples worshiped and made vows 


The Theban gymnasium was also named after him, and the Iolaeia, an athletic festival consisting of gymnastic and 

equestrian events, was held yearly in Thebes in his honor. The victors at the Iolaea were crowned with garlands of 





Repousse and engraved relief of Hercules and Iolaus 

on the Ficoroni cista. 

4th century BC Etruscan ritual vessel 

people of Iolaensi. 


Iolaus provided essential help to Heracles in his battle against the 
Hydra, his second labor. Seeing that Heracles was being 
overwhelmed by the multi-headed monster (the Lernaean Hydra), 
who grew two heads in place of each one cut off, Iolaus sprang to 
help, cauterizing each neck as Heracles beheaded it. 

Heracles gave his wife, Megara, age thirty three, to Iolaus, then 
only sixteen years old — ostensibly because the sight of her 
reminded him of his murder of their three children. They had a 
daughter, Leipephilene. He was one of the Heraclidae. 

Upon Heracles' death, Iolaus lit the funeral pyre, though according 
to some mythographers, this was Philoctetes instead. In other 
versions, it is Poeas. 

According to Diodorus Siculus, Iolaus was sent by Heracles in 
Sardinia together with nine of the sons that he had fifty daughters 
of Thespius (the Tespiadi), to colonize the island, giving rise to the 

Iolaus and the Tespiesi were buried in Sardinia. 

Aristotle said that Sardinia had practiced the rite of incubation, which is the liberation ritual of the people who were 
affected by nightmares and obsessions. These rituals included that the persons suffering from nightmares should 
sleep next to the tombs of heroes. 

Simplicius addition, the eight books in the Commentaries Aristotle, that "the places where they were deposited and 
preserved corpses of the nine heroes got from Hercules Tespiesi and came to Sardinia with the colony of Iolaus , 
became the famous oracles." 


Solinus says: "The Iolesi, so named by him (to Iolaus), added a temple to his tomb, because he had freed Sardinia for 
many ills" 



Iolaus was a major character in the Universal Studios/Renaissance Pictures Hercules/Xena franchise. Michael Hurst 
played the character in two TV-Movies (Hercules and the Amazon Women and Hercules in the Maze of the 
Minotaur) and in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (appearing as a recurring character in the first two seasons and 
a main character for the remaining seasons). Iolaus was not Hercules' nephew, but instead his best friend since 
childhood and his frequent traveling companion. It was stated that Iolaus (in the TV series) was 2 years older than 
Hercules. At times, Iolaus felt he was living in Hercules' shadow, but he often proved himself as a hero in his own 
right. The character was notably killed off several times — only to be eventually revived. 

Hurst also played Iolaus 2 (a parallel universe double), who appeared in several episodes. This Iolaus had been a 
coward and fearfully served as jester to the Sovereign (Hercules' double). Thanks to Hercules, though, he learned 
self-confidence and became a hero. Iolaus 2 later left Hercules' side when he chose to marry Triton's mermaid 
daughter Nautica and with Aphrodite's help, he became a merman. 

Hurst also played the character in two guest appearances on Xena: Warrior Princess ("Prometheus" and "The 
Quest"), and voiced the character in the animated film Hercules and Xena — The Animated Movie: The Battle for 
Mount Olympus. In the Young Hercules pilot movie and spin-off, Iolaus was a main character played by Dean 
O'Gorman. (O'Gorman also played the young version of Iolaus in a few HTLJ flashback episodes.) 

Iolaus 215 


[1] Crompton, Louis, Homosexuality and Civilization, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003, p. 123 

[2] Pindar, Olympian Ode, VIII, 84 

[3] Pindar, Isthmian Ode IV. 

[4] Plutarch, Moralia "The Dialogue on Love / Erotikos / Amatoria" Loeb edition, V. XII P. 339 

[5] Ovid Metamorphoses IX, 394. 

[6] Diodorus Siculus, book IV, 29-30. 

[7] Aristotle, Physics, IV. 

[8] Simplicius, IV, M. Perra, op. cit. 

[9] Solinus, 1-16: Iolenses ab eo dicti sepulcro eius templum addiderunt quod ... Malis plurimis Sardiniam liberasset. 


In Greek mythology, Laertes (Greek: AccEptr^) was the son of Arcesius and Chalcomedusa. He was the father of 
Odysseus (who was thus called Laertiades, AaspTLaoriq) and Ctimene by his wife Anticlea, daughter of the thief 
Autolycus. Laertes was an Argonaut and participated in the hunt for the Calydonian Boar. Laertes's title was King of 
the Cephallenians, which he presumably inherited from his father Arcesius and grandfather Cephalus. His realm 
included Ithaca and surrounding islands, and perhaps even the neighboring part of the mainland of other Greek 

Another account says that Laertes was not Odysseus's true father; rather, it was Sisyphus, who had seduced 
Anticlea. [1] 

Laertes stays away from Odysseus' home while Odysseus is gone. He keeps to himself on his farm, overcome with 
grief over Odysseus' absence and alone after his wife, Anticleia, died from grief herself. Odysseus finally comes to 
see Laertes after he has killed all the suitors competing for Penelope. He finds his father spading a plant, looking old 
and tired and filled with sadness. Odysseus keeps his identity to himself at first, but when he sees how disappointed 
Laertes is to learn that this "stranger" has no news of his son, Odysseus reveals himself, and proves his identity by 

reciting all the trees he received from Laertes when he was a boy. This emphasis on the land of Ithaca itself perhaps 

signifies that Odysseus has finally reconnected with his homeland, and his journey is over. 

Laertes had trained Odysseus in husbandry. After their reunion, the two of them head off to Odysseus' home to fend 

off the families of the dead suitors. Athena infuses vigour into Laertes, so he can help Odysseus. He kills Eupeithes, 

father of Antinous. 


[1] E.g. Servius on Aeneid 6.529. 

[2] Homer. Odyssey. Trans. Stanley Lombardo. Canada: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2000. Print. 

[3] Homer, Odyssey XXIV; Ovid, Metamorphoses VIII, 315. 




Laocoon ( 4 /lel'oke.Dn/; Ancient Greek: AaoKotov, 
IPA: [laokoo:n]) the son of Acoetes is a figure in Greek and 
Roman mythology. 




r v "fm 





* *\ 











> LA- 1 

L IT ■ 

V ; 

Laocoon is a Trojan priest of Poseidon (or Neptune), whose 
rules he had defied, either by marrying and having sons, or by 
having committed an impiety by making love with his wife in the 
presence of a cult image in a sanctuary. His minor role in the 
Epic Cycle narrating the Trojan War was of warning the Trojans in 
vain against accepting the Trojan Horse from the Greeks — "A 
deadly fraud is this," he said, "devised by the Achaean 
chiefs!" — and his subsequent divine execution by two serpents 
sent to Troy across the sea from the island of Tenedos, where the Greeks had temporarily camped 

Laocoon warned his fellow Trojans against the wooden horse presented to the city by the Greeks. In the Aeneid, 
Virgil gives Laocoon the famous line Equo ne credite, Teucri / Quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentes, or 
"Do not trust the Horse, Trojans / Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even bearing gifts." This line is the source of the 
saying: "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts." 

Laocoon and His Sons in the Vatican 



There is also another Laocoon who was the tutor or uncle of Meleager. He was sent by Oineus as a chaperone for 
Meleager as an Argonaut. 


The most detailed description of Laocoon's grisly fate was 
provided by Quintus Smyrnaeus in Posthomerica, a later, literary 
version of events following the Iliad. According to Quintus, 
Laocoon begged the Trojans to set fire to the horse to ensure it was 
not a trick. Athena, angry with him and the Trojans, shook the 
ground around Laocoon's feet and painfully blinded him. The 
Trojans, watching this unfold, assumed Laocoon was punished for 
the Trojans' mutilating and doubting Sinon, the undercover Greek 
soldier sent to convince the Trojans to let him and the horse inside 
their city walls. Thus, the Trojans wheeled the great wooden Horse 
in. Laocoon did not give up trying to convince the Trojans to burn 
the horse, and Athena makes him pay even further. She sends two 
giant sea serpents to strangle and kill him and his two sons. In 
another version of the story, it was said that Poseidon sent the sea 
serpents to strangle and kill Laocoon and his two sons. 

' vmoX4lNMNl\C)«IOEll.OCi;vMIMO!)>»i\6UtO 





Death of Laocoon from the Vatican Vergil. 

According to Apollodorus, it was Apollo who sent the two sea 

serpents. Laocoon had insulted Apollo by sleeping with his wife in front of the "divine image 

, [8] 



Virgil employed the motif in the Aeneid. The Trojans, according to Virgil, disregarded Laocoon's advice and were 
taken in by the deceitful testimony of Sinon; in his resulting anger, Laocoon threw his spear at the Horse. Minerva, 
who was supporting the Greeks, at this moment sent sea-serpents to strangle Laocoon and his two sons, Antiphantes 
and Thymbraeus. "Laocoon, ostensibly sacrificing a bull to Neptune on behalf of the city (lines 201ff.), becomes 
himself the tragic victim, as the simile (lines 223—24) makes clear. In some sense, his death must be symbolic of the 
city as a whole," S. V. Tracy notes. According to the Hellenistic poet Euphorion of Chalcis, Laocoon is in fact 
punished for procreating upon holy ground sacred to Poseidon; only unlucky timing caused the Trojans to 
misinterpret his death as punishment for striking the Horse, which they bring into the city with disastrous 
consequences. The episode furnished the subject of Sophocles' lost tragedy, Laocoon. 

In Aeneid Virgil describes the circumstances of Laocoon's death: 

From the Aeneid 

Me simul manibus tendit 
divellere nodos 

perfusus sanie vittas atroque 

clamores simul horrendos ad 
sidera tollit: 

qualis mugitus, fugit cum 
saucius aram 

taurus et incertam excussit 
cervice securim. 

Literal English translation: 

At the same time he stretched forth to tear the 
knots with his hands 

his fillets soaked with saliva and black venom 

at the same time he lifted to heaven horrendous 

like the bellowing when a wounded bull has fled 
from the altar 

and has shaken the ill-aimed axe from its neck. 

John Dryden's translation: 

With both his hands he labors at the 

His holy fillets the blue venom blots; 

His roaring fills the flitting air around. 

Thus, when an ox receives a glancing 

He breaks his bands, the fatal altar 

And with loud bellowings breaks the 
yielding skies. 

The death of Laocoon was famously depicted in a much-admired marble Laocoon and his Sons, attributed by Pliny 
the Elder to the Rhodian sculptors Agesander, Athenodoros, and Polydorus, which stands in the Vatican Museums, 
Rome. Copies have been executed by various artists, notably Baccio Bandinelli. These show the complete sculpture 
(with conjectural reconstructions of the missing pieces) and can be seen in Rhodes, at the Palace of the Grand Master 
of the Knights of Rhodes, Rome, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and in front of the Archaeological Museum, Odessa, 
Ukraine, amongst others. 

The marble Laocoon provided the central image for Lessing's Laocoon, 1766, an aesthetic polemic directed against 
Winckelmann and the comte de Caylus. Daniel Albright reengages the role of the figure of Laocoon in aesthetic 
thought in his book Untwisting the Serpent: Modernism in Literature, Music, and Other Arts, [cite El Greco 

In addition to other literary references, John Barth employs a bust of Laocoon in his novella, The End of the Road. 
The R.E.M. song "Laughing" references Laocoon, rendering him female ("Laocoon and her two sons"). The marble's 
pose is parodied in the comic book Asterix and the Laurel Wreath. American author Joyce Carol Oates also 
references Laocoon in her 1989 novel American Appetites. In Stave V of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens 
(1843), Scrooge awakes on Christmas morning "...making a perfect Laocoon of himself with his stockings." Barbara 
Tuchman's The March of Folly begins with an extensive analysis of the Laocoon story. 

Laocoon 218 


[I] "Laocoon, son of Acoetes, brother of Anchises, and priest of Apollo..." (Hyginus, Fabula 135. 
[2] According to Virgil: Laocoon, ductus Neptuno sorte sacerdos (2.101) 

[3] According to Hyginus 

[4] According to Servius. 

[5] Quintus Smyrnaeus X.420f ( Text on-line ( 

[6] Aeneid 2. 199-227. 

[7] Quintus of Smyrna. The Trojan Epic Posthomerica. Tr. Alan James. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004. Print. 

[8] Apollodorus, Epitome, Epit. E.5.18 (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999. 01. 

0022: text =Epi tome: hook=E :chapter=5 : section= 1 8) 
[9] S. V. Tracy, "Laocoon's Guilt" ( The American Journal of Philology 108.3 (Autumn 1987), p. 453. 
[10] Euphorion's poem is lost, but Servius alludes to the lines in his scholia on the Aeneid. 

[II] See (http://www.bartleby.eom/13/2.html), line 290 


• Gall, Dorothee and Anja Wolkenhauer (hg). Laokoon in Literatur und Kunst: Schriften des Symposions "Laokoon 
in Literatur und Kunst" vom 30.11.2006, Universitdt Bonn (Berlin; New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2009) 
(Beitrage zur Altertumskunde, 254). 

Classical sources 

Compiled by Tracy, 1987:452 note 3 (, which also mentions a fragmentary 
line possibly by Nicander. 

• Arctinus, OCT Homer 5.107.23 

• Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 1.48.2 

• Hyginus, Fabula 135 

• Petronius 89; Servius on Aeneid 2.201 

• pseudo- Apollodorus, Epitome 5.18 

• Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica 12.445ff 

• John Tzetzes, Ad Lycophron 347 




Lynceus (in Greek, Lynkeus) was the jealous murderer of Castor, along with his brother, Idas. Idas and Lynceus 
murdered Castor because they all (along with Polydeuces) sought Phoebe and Hilaeira, daughters of Leucippus (who 
was also Idas and Lynceus' uncle in some versions). Lynceus was one of the Argonauts and he participated in the 
hunt for the Calydonian Boar. He was a son of Aphareus and Arene and was said to have excellent sight, even able 
to see through trees, walls and underground. 


• Bibliotheca I, viii, 2 and ix, 16; III, x, 3 and xi,2. 

• Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica I, 151-55; 

• Ovid, Metamorphoses VIII, 304. 

• Iamblichus, Invitation to Philosophy 


Medea (Greek: Mr]6ELa, Medeia, Georgian: 9;]c°;]6, Medea) is a 
Colchian woman in Greek mythology. She was the daughter of King 
Aeetes of Colchis, niece of Circe, granddaughter of the sun god 
Helios, and later wife to the hero Jason, with whom she had two 
children, Mermeros and Pheres. In Euripides's play Medea, Jason 
leaves Medea when Creon, king of Corinth, offers him his daughter, 
Glauce. The play tells about how Medea avenges her husband's 

The myths involving Jason have been interpreted by specialists as 
part of a class of myths that tell how the Hellenes of the distant heroic 
age, before the Trojan War, faced the challenges of the pre-Greek 
"Pelasgian" cultures of mainland Greece, the Aegean and Anatolia. 
Jason, Perseus, Theseus, and above all Heracles, are all "liminal" 
figures, poised on the threshold between the old world of shamans, 

chthonic earth deities, and the new Bronze Age Greek ways 


Medea figures in the myth of Jason and the Argonauts, a myth known 

best from a late literary version worked up by Apollonius of Rhodes in 

the 3rd century BC and called the Argonautica. However, for all its 

self-consciousness and researched archaic vocabulary, the late epic was 

based on very old, scattered materials. Medea is known in most stories 

as an enchantress and is often depicted as being a priestess of the goddess Hecate or a witch. The myth of Jason and 

Medea is very old, originally written around the time Hesiod wrote the Theogony. It was known to the composer of 

the Little Iliad, part of the Epic Cycle. 

Medea by Evelyn De Morgan. 



Jason and Medea 

Medea's role began after Jason arrived from Iolcus to Colchis, to claim 
his inheritance and throne by retrieving the Golden Fleece. In the most 
complete surviving account, the Argonautica of Apollonius, Medea fell 
in love with him and promised to help him, but only on the condition 
that if he succeeded, he would take her with him and marry her. Jason 
agreed. In a familiar mythic motif, Aeetes promised to give him the 
fleece, but only if he could perform certain tasks. First, Jason had to 
plough a field with fire-breathing oxen that he had to yoke himself. 
Medea gave him an unguent with which to anoint himself and his 
weapons, to protect him from the bulls' fiery breath. Then, Jason had to 
sow the teeth of a dragon in the ploughed field (compare the myth of 
Cadmus). The teeth sprouted into an army of warriors. Jason was 
forewarned by Medea, however, and knew to throw a rock into the 
crowd. Unable to determine where the rock had come from, the 
soldiers attacked and killed each other. Finally, Aeetes made Jason 
fight and kill the sleepless dragon that guarded the fleece. Medea put 
the beast to sleep with her narcotic herbs. Jason then took the fleece 
and sailed away with Medea, as he had promised. Apollonius says that 
Medea only helped Jason in the first place because Hera had convinced Aphrodite or Eros to cause Medea to fall in 
love with him. Medea distracted her father as they fled by killing her brother Absyrtus. In some versions, Medea is 
said to have dismembered his body and scattered his parts on an island, knowing her father would stop to retrieve 
them for proper burial; in other versions, it is Absyrtus himself who pursued them, and was killed by Jason. During 
the fight, Atalanta was seriously wounded, but Medea healed her. 

Medea by Anthony Frederick Augustus Sandys 

(painted 1866-68); its rejection for exhibition at 

the Royal Academy in 1868 caused a storm of 


According to some versions, Medea and Jason stopped on her aunt Circe's island so that she could be cleansed after 
the murder of her brother, relieving her of blame for the deed. 



On the way back to Thessaly, Medea prophesied that Euphemus, the 
Argo's helmsman, would one day rule over all Libya. This came true 
through Battus, a descendant of Euphemus. 

The Argo then reached the island of Crete, guarded by the bronze man, 
Talos (Talus). Talos had one vein which went from his neck to his 
ankle, bound shut by a single bronze nail. According to Apollodorus, 
Talos was slain either when Medea drove him mad with drugs, 
deceived him that she would make him immortal by removing the nail, 
or was killed by Poeas's arrow (Apollodorus 1.140). In the 
Argonautica, Medea hypnotized him from the Argo, driving him mad 
so that he dislodged the nail, ichor flowed from the wound, and he bled 
to death (Argonautica 4. 1638). After Talos died, the Argo landed. 

While Jason searched for the Golden Fleece, Hera, who was still angry 
at Pelias, conspired to make him fall in love with Medea, who she 
hoped would kill Pelias. When Jason and Medea returned to Iolcus, 
Pelias still refused to give up his throne. Medea conspired to have 
Pelias' own daughters kill him. She told them she could turn an old ram 
into a young ram by cutting up the old ram and boiling it. During the 
demonstration, a live, young ram jumped out of the pot. Excited, the 
girls cut their father into pieces and threw him into a pot. Having killed 
Pelias, Jason and Medea fled to Corinth. This is much like what she did 
with Aeson, Jason's father. 

Jason et Medee by Gustave Moreau (1865). 

Many endings 

In Corinth, Jason abandoned Medea for the king's daughter, Glauce. Medea took her revenge by sending Glauce a 
dress and golden coronet, covered in poison. This resulted in the deaths of both the princess and the king, Creon, 
when he went to save her. According to the tragic poet Euripides, Medea continued her revenge, murdering her two 
children by Jason. Afterward, she left Corinth and flew to Athens in a golden chariot driven by dragons sent by her 
grandfather Helios, god of the sun. 



Before the fifth century BC, there seem to have been two variants of 
the myth's conclusion. According to the poet Eumelus to whom the 
fragmentary epic Korinthiaka is usually attributed, Medea killed her 
children by accident. The poet Creophylus, however, blamed their 
murders on the citizens of Corinth. Medea's deliberate murder of her 

children, then, appears to be Euripides' invention although some 

scholars believe Neophron created this alternate tradition. Her 

filicide would go on to become the standard for later writers. 

Pausanias, writing in the late 2nd century, records five different 

versions of what happened to Medea's children after reporting that he 

has seen a monument for them while traveling in Corinth 


Medea (about to murder her children) by Eugene 
Ferdinand Victor Delacroix (1862). 

Fleeing from Jason, Medea made her way to Thebes where she healed 
Heracles (the former Argonaut) for the murder of Iphitus. In return, 
Heracles gave her a place to stay in Thebes until the Thebans drove her 
out in anger, despite Heracles' protests. 

She then fled to Athens where she met and married Aegeus. They had 
one son, Medus, although Hesiod makes Medus the son of Jason. 
Her domestic bliss was once again shattered by the arrival of Aegeus' 
long-lost son, Theseus. Determined to preserve her own son's inheritance, Medea convinced her husband that 
Theseus was a threat and that he should be disposed of. As Medea handed Theseus a cup of poison, Aegeus 
recognized the young man's sword as his own, which he had left behind many years previous for his newborn son, to 
be given to him when he came of age. Knocking the cup from Medea's hand, Aegeus embraced Theseus as his own. 

Medea then returned to Colchis and, finding that Aeetes had been deposed by his brother Perses, promptly killed her 
uncle, and restored the kingdom to her father. Herodotus reports another version, in which Medea and her son Medus 
fled from Athens to the Iranian plateau and lived among the Aryans, who then changed their name to the Medes. 

Personae of Medea 


Though the early literary presentations of Medea are lost, 
Apollonius of Rhodes, in a redefinition of epic formulas, and 
Euripides, in a dramatic version for a specifically Athenian audience, 
each employed the figure of Medea; Seneca offered yet another tragic 
Medea, of witchcraft and potions, and Ovid rendered her portrait three 
times for a sophisticated and sceptical audience in Imperial Rome. The 
far-from-static evolution undergone by the figure of Medea was the 
subject of a recent set of essays published in 1997. Other, 


non-literary traditions guided the vase-painters, and a localized, 
chthonic presence of Medea was propitiated with unrecorded 
emotional overtones at Corinth, at the sanctuary devoted to her slain 
children, or locally venerated elsewhere as a foundress of cities. 



II 1 




The statue of Medea in the center of Batumi, 
Georgia, one of the main Colchian cities. 

Medea in popular culture 

The dramatic episodes in which Medea plays a role have ensured that she remains vividly represented in popular 




Primary sources 

Cicero In the court case Pro Caelio, the name Medea is 
mentioned at least five times, as a way to make fun of 
Clodia, sister of P. Clodius Pulcher, the man who 
exiled Cicero. 

• Ovid [17] 

Heroides XII 

Metamorphoses VII, 1-450 

Tristia iii.9 

Euripides, Medea 

Neophron, Medea (fragments from the play) 

Hyginus, Fabulae 21-26 

Pindar, Pythian Odes, IIII 

Seneca: Medea (tragedy) 

Bibliotheca I, 23-28 

Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 

Gaius Valerius Flaccus Argonautica (epic) 

Herodotus, Histories VII. 62i 

Hesiod, Theogony 1000-2 

Secondary material 

Jean Anouilh, Medea 

John Gardner (novelist), Jason and Medeia 

Robinson Jeffers, Medea 

Hans Henny Jahnn, Medea 

Percival Everett, For Her Dark Skin 

Maxwell Anderson, The Wingless Victory 

Geoffrey Chaucer The Legend of Good Women (1386) 

Michael Wood, In Search of Myths & Heroes: Jason and the Golden Fleece 

Chrysanthos Mentis Bostantzoglou (Bost), Medea (parody of Medea of Euripides) 

Related literature 


Medea (Ovid's lost tragedy - two lines are extant) 

Marina Carr, By the Bog of Cats 

A. R. Gurney, The Golden Fleece 

Pierre Corneille Medee (tragedy, 1635) 

Heiner Muller, Medeamaterial and Medeaplay 

William Morris Life and Death of Jason (epic poem, 1867) 

Franz Grillparzer, Das goldene Vliess {The Golden Fleece) (play, 1822) 

Dorothy M. Johnson, Witch Princess (novel, 1967) 

Pervical Everett, For Her Dark Skin (novel, 1990) 

H. M. Hoover, The Dawn Palace: The Story of Medea (novel, 1988) 

Christa Wolf, Medea (a novel) (published in German 1993, translated to English 1998) 



• Cherrie Moraga, The Hungry Woman: A Mexican Medea (combines classical Greek myth Medea with 
Mexicana/o legend of La Llorona and Aztec myth of lunar deity Coyolxauhqui) 

• Cicero, Pro Caelio (political speech) Cicero refers to Clodia as hanc Palatinam Medeam, "this Medea of the 

• Stuart Hill, Blade Of Fire (Character portrayed as based on Medea in this Young adult novel) 

• Rick Riordan (author), "The Lost Hero"; Medea, having geing resurrected by vengeful goddess Gaia, runs a 
department store in Chicago that the three main heroes Jason, Leo & Piper encounter on their quest to rescue 
Hera/Juno. When Piper tries to get her friends to leave by recounting Medea's villanous deeds, Medea counters 
that she was the victim, then tries to "Charm-speak" Leo & Jason into killing each other. 

Jason and Medea by John William Waterhouse 


• Francesco Cavalli Giasone (opera, 1649) 

• Jean-Baptiste Lully Thesee (opera, 1674) 

• Antonio Caldara "Medea in Corinto" (cantata for alto, 2 violins and 
basso continuo, 1711) 

• Marc-Antoine Charpentier Medee (tragedie en musique,1693) 

• Georg Anton Benda composed the melodrama Medea in 1775 on a 
text by Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter. 

• Luigi Cherubini composed the opera Medee in 1797 and it is 
Cherubini's best-known work, but better known by its Italian title, 

• Simon Mayr composed his opera Medea in Corinto to a libretto of 
[iuseppe Felice Romano. It premiered in Naples in 1813. 

• Saverio Mercadante composed his opera Medea in 1851 to a libretto 
by Salvadore Cammarano. 

• Darius Milhaud composed the opera Medee in 1939 to a text by 
Madeleine Milhaud (his wife and cousin). 

• American composer Samuel Barber wrote his Medea ballet (later 

renamed The Cave of the Heart) in 1947 for Martha Graham and derived from that Medea's Meditation & Dance 
of Vengeance Op. 23a in 1955. The musical Blast! uses an arrangement of Barber's Medea as their end to Act I. 

• Ray E. Luke's "Medea" won the 1979 Rockefeller Foundation/New England Conservatory Competition for Best 
New American Opera. 

• Jacob Druckman's 1980 orchestral work, Prism, is based on three different renderings of the Medea myth by 
Charpentier, Cavalli, and Cherubini. Each movement incorporates material and quotations from the music of 
Druckman's three predecessors. At the time of his death, Druckman was writing a large-scale grand opera on the 
Medea myth commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera. 

• Star of Indiana — the drum and bugle corps that Blast! formed out of — used Parados, Kantikos Agonias, and 
Dance of Vengeance in their 1993 production (with Bartok's Allegro from Music for Strings, Percussion and 
Celeste), between Kantikos and Vengeance. 

• In 1993 Chamber Made produced an opera Medea composed by Gordon Kerry, with text by Justin Macdonnell 
after Seneca. 

• Michael John LaChiusa scored "Marie Christine", a Broadway musical with heavy opera influence based on the 
story of Medea. The production premiered at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in December 1999 for a limited run 
under Lincoln Center Theatre. LaChuisa's score and book were nominated for a Tony Award in 2000, as was a 
tour-de-force performance by three-time Tony winner Audra McDonald. 

Medea 225 

• In 1991, the world premiere was held in the Teatro Arriaga, Bilbao of the opera Medea by Mikis Theodorakis. 
This was the first in Theodorakis' trilogy of lyrical tragedies, the others being Electra and Antigone. 

• Oscar Strasnoy's opera "Midea (2)", based on Irina Possamai's libretto, premiered in 2000 at Teatro Caio Melisso, 
Spoleto, Italy. Orpheus Opera Award. 

• Rockettothesky medea 2008 

• instrumental chamber music piece Medea by Dietmar Bonnen 2008 

• Dutch progressive rock band Kayak (band), with the song Medea, on their 2008 release Coming Up For Air 

• Dutch one-man project Spinvis, with the song Medea, on his album Goochelaars & Geesten in 2007 

• Vienna Teng, with the song My Medea in her 2004 album Warm Strangers. 

• The Finnish melodic death metal band Insomnium has a song about her called Medeia on their album In the Halls 
of Awaiting, which was released in 2002. 

• Mauro Lanza composed the music to Le Songe De Medee, a ballet choreographed by Angelin Prelijocaj for the 
Ballet de l'Opera national de Paris and featured in the film La Danse. 

• Alina Novikova (composer) and Daria Zholnerova, produced an opera Medea, based on Innokentiy Annenskiy, 
Evripid's translation. First performed in 201 1, St. Petersburg, Russia 

Cinema and television 

• In the 1963 film Jason and the Argonauts, Medea was portrayed by Nancy Kovack. 

• In the 2000 Hallmark presentation Jason and the Argonauts, Medea was portrayed by Jolene Blalock. 

• In 1969, the Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini directed a film adaptation of Medea featuring the opera singer 
Maria Callas in the title role. 

• In 1978, the film A Dream of Passion in which Melina Mercouri as an actress portraying Medea seeks out Ellen 
Burstyn a mother who recently murdered her children. 

• In 1988, director Lars von Trier filmed his Medea for Danish television, using a pre-existing script by filmmaker 
Carl Theodor Dreyer. Cast included Udo Kier, Kirsten Olesen, Henning Jensen, Mette Munk Plum. 

• In the 1992 film Highway to Hell, Medea was portrayed by Anne Meara. 

• Medea (under the name of Caster) is one of the antagonists in the visual novel and anime Fate/Stay Night. 

• In the 2005 film L'enfer (Hell) a student Anne (Marie Gillain) takes a formal oral exam on the subject of Medea. 
Her words are spoken over images of her sister Sophie (Emmanuelle Beart) playing with her two children 
implying an analogy. 

• In 2007, director Tonino De Bernardi filmed a modern version of the myth, set in Paris and starring Isabelle 
Huppert as Medea, called Medee Miracle. The character of Medea lives in Paris with Jason, who leaves her. 

• In 2009, Medea was shot by director Natalia Kuznetsova. Film was created by the tragedy of Seneca in a 
new-for-cinema genre of Rhythmodrama, in which the main basis of acting and atmosphere is music written 
before shooting. 

Medea 226 


[I] Colchis was an ancient Georgian Kingdom 

[2] Glauce is known as Creusa in Seneca's Medea and in Propertius 2.16.30. 

[3] See, for example, Nita Krevans, "Medea as foundation-heroine", in James Joseph Clauss, Sarah lies Johnston, eds. Medea: essays on Medea 

in myth, literature, philosophy, and art (Princeton University Press) 1997:71-82. 
[4] For this general aspect, see especially Carl A. P. Ruck and Danny Staples, The World of Classical Myth: Gods and Goddesses, Heroines and 

Heroes University of North Carolina 1994, part III: The Liminal Hero. 
[5] As noted in a scholium to Pindar's Olympian Ode 13.74; cf. Pausanias 2.3.10-1 1. 
[6] As noted in the scholium to Medea 264. 
[7] SeeMcDermott 1985, 10-15. 
[8] Hyginus Fahulae 25; Ovid Met. 7.391ff; Seneca Medea; Bibliotheca 1.9.28 favors Euripides' version of events, but also records the variant 

that the Corinthians killed Medea's children in retaliation for her crimes. 
[9] Pausanias 2.3.6-11 
[10] Hesiod Theogony 1000-2 

[II] Herodotus Histories VII.62i 

[12] The lost Corinthiaca of Naupactos and the Building of the Argo, by Epimenides of Crete, for instances. 

[13] Medea: Essays on Medea in Myth, Literature, Philosophy, and Art, James Joseph Clauss and Sarah lies Johnston, eds., (Princeton University 

Press) 1997. Includes a bibliography of works focused on Medea. 
[14] As on the bell krater at the Cleveland Museum of Art (91.1) discussed in detail by Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood, "Medea at a Shifting 

Distance: Images and Euripidean tragedy", in Clauss and Johnston 1997, pp 253-96. 
[15] Edouard Will, Corinth 1955. "By identifying Medea, Ino and Melikertes, Bellerophon, and Hellotis as pre-Olympianprecursors of Hera, 

Poseidon, and Athena, he could give to Corinth a religious antiquity it did not otherwise possess", wrote Nancy Bookidis, "The Sanctuaries of 

Corinth", Corinth 20 (2003) 
[16] "Pindar shows her prophesying the foundation of Cyrene; Herodotus makes her the legendary eponymous founder of the Medes; 

Callimachus and Apollonius describe colonies founded by Colchians originally sent out in pursuit of her" observes Nita Krevans, "Medea as 

foundation heroine", in Clauss and Johnston 1997 pp 71-82 (p. 71). 
[17] Ovid also wrote a full play called Medea from which only a few lines are preserved. 
[18] Fragments are printed and discussed by Theodor Heinze, Der XII Heroidenbrief: Medea an lason Mit einer Beilage: Die Fragmente der 

Tragodie Medea P . Ovidius Naso. (in series Mnemosyne, Supplements, 170. 1997 


• Clauss, J. J. and S. I. Johnston (eds), Medea: Essays on Medea in Myth, Literature, Philosophy and Art 
(Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1997). 

• McDermott, Emily, Euripides' Medea (University Park, PA, Penn State University Press, 1985). 

• Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Medeia or Medea" 
(http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999. 04. 0104:alphabetic+letter=M:entry+ 

• Wygant, Amy, Medea, Magic, and Modernity in France: Stages and Histories, 1553-1797 (Aldershot, Ashgate, 




^Me&ager ei , //////// ////r 
Meleager et Atalanta, after Giulio Romano. 

This article is about the 
mythological figure, for other 
uses see Meleager 


In Greek mythology, Meleager 
(pronounced /.meli'eiger/ , Ancient 
Greek: Mekeaypoc, Mele'agros) was a 
hero venerated in his temenos at 
Calydon in Aetolia. He was already 
famed as the host of the Calydonian 
boar hunt in the epic tradition that was 
reworked by Homer. Meleager was 
the son of Althaea and the vintner 
Oeneus and, according to some 
accounts father of Parthenopeus and Polydora. 

When Meleager was born, the Moirai (the Fates) predicted he would only live until a brand, burning in the family 

hearth, was consumed by fire. Overhearing them, Althaea immediately doused and hid the brand. Meleager 

married Cleopatra, daughter of Idas. However, in some versions, he had to defeat Atalanta in a footrace, in which he 

was aided by Athena. 

Oeneus sent Meleager to gather up heroes from all over Greece to hunt the Calydonian Boar that had been 
terrorizing the area, rooting up the vines, Oeneus having omitted Artemis at a festival in which he honored the other 
gods. In addition to the heroes he required, he chose Atalanta, a fierce huntress, whom he loved. According to one 
account of the hunt, when Hylaeus and Rhaecus, two centaurs, tried to rape Atalanta, Meleager killed them. Then, 
Atalanta wounded the boar and Meleager killed it. He awarded her the hide since she had drawn the first drop of 

Meleager's brother Toxeus, the "archer", and Plexippus (Althaea's brother) grew enraged that the prize was given 
to a woman. Meleager killed them in the following argument. He also killed Iphicles and Eurypylus for insulting 
Atalanta. When Althaea found out that Meleager had killed her brother and one of her sons, Althaea placed the brand 
that she had stolen from the Fates (the one that the Fates predicted, once engulfed with fire, would kill Meleager) 
upon the fire, thus fulfilling the prophecy and killing Meleager. The women who mourned his death were turned into 
guineafowl (Meleagrides). 

Meleager is also mentioned as one of the Argonauts. In Hades, his is the only shade that does not flee Heracles, who 
has come after Cerberus. In Bacchylides' Ode V, Meleager is still in his shining armor, so formidable, in 
Bacchylides' account, that Heracles reaches for his bow to defend himself. Heracles is moved to tears by Meleager's 

account; Meleager has left his sister Deianira unwedded in his father's house, and entreats Heracles to take her as 

bride; here Bacchylides breaks off his account of the meeting, without noting that in this way Heracles in the 

Underworld chooses a disastrous wife. 


With his wife Kleopatra, daughter of Idas and Marpessa, he had a daughter, Polydora, who became the bride of 
Protesilaus, who left her bed on their wedding-night to join the expedition to Troy. 

Among the Romans, the heroes assembled by Meleager for the Calydonian hunt provided a theme of multiple nudes 
in striking action, to be portrayed frieze-like on sarcophagi. 

Meleager's story has similarities with the Scandinavian Norna-Gests pdttr. 



Meleager sarcophagus 

Meleager and Atalanta (17th 
century) by Jacob Jordaens 

Ancient sources 

• Bacchylides Fr 5.93 

• Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica I, 190-201. 

• Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca I, viii, 1-3. 

• Ovid, Metamorphoses VIII, 269-525. 


[1] Wells, John C. (2009). "Meleager". Longman Pronunciation Dictionary. London: Pearson Longman. ISBN 978-1-4058-8118-0. 

[2] Homer, Iliad IX, 529-99. 

[3] Hyginus, Fabula 171; pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke 1.8.2. 

[4] pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke 1.8.2. 

[5] Euripides, Frg. 520, noted by Karl Kerenyi, The Heroes of the Greeks, 1959:119 note 673. 

[6] There were two further brothers, Thyreus, the "porter", and Klymenos, the "famous" — though Meleager is by far the most renowned of the 

four — and two sisters, Gorge and Deianira (Kerenyi 1959: 199 and Genealogical table G, p. 375). 
[7] Or perhaps his half-sister, if Dionysus is the real father of Deianira, as pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke 1.8.1, would have it; Oineos himself, 

"to judge by his name a double of the wine-god", Kerenyi observes (Kerenyi 1959:199). 
[8] Scholia on fliW21. 194, noted by Kerenyi 1959:180 note 103. 
[9] Kerenyi 1959: Genealogical table F, p. 372. 

Mopsus 229 


Mopsus or Mopsos (Ancient Greek: Moa|>o<;) was the name of two famous seers in Greek mythology. A historical or 
legendary Mopsos or Muksus may have been the founder of a house in power at widespread sites in the coastal plains 
of Pamphylia and Cilicia (today's Turkey) during the early Iron Age. 

Son of Manto and Rhacius or Apollo 

Mopsus, a celebrated seer and diviner, was the son of Manto, daughter of the mythic seer Tiresias, and of Rhacius of 
Caria or of Apollo himself, the oracular god. Greeks of the Classical age accepted Mopsus as a historical figure, 
though the anecdotes concerning him bridge legend and myth. 

Mopsus (and perhaps a tradition of his heirs, like the Melampodidae, the Iamidae from Olympia or the Eumolpidae 
at Eleusis) officiated at the altars of Apollo at Klaros, which he founded; at Klaros the tradition was that he had been 
the son of a daughter of the seer Teiresias named Manto, literally "seeress". His unerring wisdom and discernment 
gave rise to the ancient Greek proverb, "more certain than Mopsus". He distinguished himself at the siege of Thebes; 
but he was held in particular veneration at the court of Amphilochus at Colophon on the Ionian coast of Asia Minor, 
adjacent to Caria. 

The 12th century Byzantine mythographer John Tzetzes reports anecdotes of the prowess of Mopsus. Having been 
consulted, on one occasion, by Amphilochus, who wished to know what success would attend his arms in a war 
which he was going to undertake, he predicted the greatest calamities; but Calchas, who had been the soothsayer of 
the Greeks during the Trojan War, promised the greatest successes. Amphilochus followed the opinion of Calchas, 
but the prediction of Mopsus was fully verified. This had such an effect upon Calchas that he died soon after. His 
death is attributed by sources used by John Tzetzes to another mortification of the same nature: in this case, the two 
soothsayers, jealous of each other's fame, came to a different trial of their skill in divination. Calchas first asked his 
antagonist how many figs a neighboring tree bore; ten thousand and one, replied Mopsus. The figs were gathered, 
and his answer was found to be true. Mopsus now, to try his adversary, asked him how many young ones a certain 
pregnant sow would bring forth, and at what time. Calchas confessed his inability to answer, whereupon Mopsus 
declared that she would be delivered on the morrow, and would bring forth ten young ones, of which only one would 
be a male. The morrow proved the veracity of his prediction, and Calchas died through the grief which his defeat 
produced. Amphilochus subsequently having occasion to visit Argos, entrusted the sovereign power to Mopsus, to 
keep it for him during the space of a year. On his return, however, Mopsus refused to restore to him the kingdom, 
whereupon, having quarreled, they engaged and slew each other. According to another legend reported by 
Tzetzes, he was slain by Herakles. 

Mopsus was venerated as founder in several cities of Pamphylia and the Cilician plain, among them Mopsuestia, "the 
house (hestia) of Mopsus" in Cilicia, and Mallos, where he quarreled with his co-founder Amphilochus and both 
were buried in tumuli, from which neither could see that of the other. At Mopsoukrene, the "spring of Mopsus", he 
had an oracular site. 


Mopsus, son of Ampyx and a nymph (sometimes named as Chloris), born at Titaressa in Thessaly, was also a seer 

_ ro] 

and augur. In Thessaly the place name Mopsion recalled his own. The earliest evidence of him is inscribed on the 
strap of a soldier's shield, found at Olympia and dated c.600-575 BC. According to Diodorus Siculus (III. 55), 
Mopsus was a Thracian commander who had lived long before the Trojan War, and along with Sipylus the Scythian, 
had been driven into exile from Thrace by its king Lycurgus. Sometime later, he and Sipylus defeated the Libyan 
Amazons in a pitched battle, in which their queen Myrine was slain, and the Thracians pursued the surviving 
Amazons all the way to Libya. 

Mopsus 230 

This Mopsus was one of two seers among the Argonauts, and was said to have understood the language of birds, 
having learned augury from Apollo. He had competed at the funeral-games for Jason's father and was among the 
Lapiths who fought the Centaurs. While fleeing across the Libyan desert from angry sisters of the slain Gorgon 
Medusa, Mopsus died from the bite of a viper that had grown from a drop of Medusa's blood. Medea was unable to 
save him, even by magical means. The Argonauts buried him with a monument by the sea, and a temple was later 
erected on the site. 


Ovid places him also at the hunt of the Calydonian Boar, although the hunt occurred after the Argonauts' return. 

Historical person 

The Christian chronicler Eusebius of Caesarea was as convinced of Mopsus' historicity as his pagan predecessors 
and contemporaries: in his parallel chronologies he entered under the year corresponding to 1 184/83 Mopsus reigned 
in Cilicia. In the early 16th century, German chronicler Johannes Aventinus placed him in the reign of Ingaevone, 
in ca. 22nd century BC, along the Sava River, where, allegedly, he defeated Myrine. 

Names similar to Mopsos, whether Greek or Anatolian, are also attested in Near Eastern languages. Since the 
discovery of a bilingual Luwian-Phoenician inscription in Karatepe (in Cilicia) in 1946-7, it has been conjectured 
that Mopsos was an historical person. The inscription is dated to c. 700 BC, and the person speaking in it, 
'-z-t-w-d (Phoenician) / Azatiwatas (Luwian), professes to be king of the d-n-n-y-m / Hiyawa, and describes his 
dynasty as "the house of M-p-s / Muksus". Apparently, he is a descendant of Mopsus. The Phoenician name of the 
people recalls one of the Homeric names of the Greeks, Danaoi with the -m plural, whereas the Luwian name 
Hiyawa probably goes back to Hittite Ahhiya(wa), which is, according to most interpretations, the "Achaean", or 
Mycenaean Greek, settlement in Asia Minor. Ancient Greek authors ascribe a central role to Mopsus in the 
colonization of Pamphylia. 

A 13th-century date for the historical Mopsus may be confirmed by a Hittite tablet from Bogazkale which mentions 
a person called Muksus in connection with Madduwattas of Arzawa and Attarsiyas of Ahhiya. This text is dated to 


the reign of Arnuwandas III. Therefore, some scholars associate Mopsus' activities along the coast of Asia Minor 
and the Levant with the famous Sea Peoples' attacking Egypt in the beginning of the 12th century BC, one of those 
peoples being the Denyen — comparable to the d-n-n-y-m of the Karatepe inscription. The Sea People identification 


is, however, questioned by other scholars. 

The name of the king erecting the Karatepe inscription, Azatiwad, is probably related to the toponym Aspendos, the 
name of a city in Pamphylia founded by the Argives according to Strabo (14.4.2). The name of the city is written 
E2TFEAIIT2 (Estwediius) on coins of the 5th century BC. Presumably, it was an earlier Azatiwad, the ancestor of 
our king, that gave his name to the city. The name does not appear to be Greek of origin (= Luwian "Lover of the 
Sun God [Wa(n)da]"? ). The ethnicity of Mopsus himself is not clear: The fragmentary Lydian historiographer 
Xanthus made him a Lydian campaigning in Phoenicia. If we may believe the transmission of Nicolaus of 
Damascus who quotes him, Xanthus wrote the name with -ks-, like in the Hittite and Luwian texts; given that Lydian 
also belongs to the Anatolian language family, it is possible that Xanthus relied on a local non-Greek tradition 
according to which Muksus was a Luwian. 

Mopsus 231 


[I] Strabo, xiv.4.3; Pausanias, vii.3.2; Pomponius Mela, i.88, and T.J. Scheer, Mythische Vorvdter: zur Bedeutung griechischer Heroenmythen im 
Sebstverstdndnis kleinasiatischer Stddte, 1993:164-68, are all noted by Fox 2009:213 note 17. 

[2] In his scholia on the poet Lycophron. 

[3] John Tzetzes. Ad Lycophron, 427. 

[4] Compare the archaic tradition of the year-king. 

[5] John Tzetzes. Ad Lycophron, 440. 

[6] John Tzetzes. Ad Lycophron, 980. 

[7] Mallos and Mopsoukrene: Fox 2009:213. 

[8] Fox 2009:212. 

[9] Fox 2009:212. 

[10] The other was Idmon. 

[II] He was shown engaged in boxing on the 7th-century ivory Chest of Cypselus, in Pausanias' description (v. 17. 10). 

[12] Argonautica I, 65-68 and 1502-1536); also Ovid, Metamorphoses IV 618- 621; ' Hyginus, Fabulae 14, 128, 172.?; John Tzetzes, Ad 

Lycophron, 980. 
[13] Ovid, Metamorphoses, VIII.316. 
[14] Mopsus regnauit in Cilicia a quo Mopsicrenae et Mopsistae (i.e. Mopsucrene and Mopsuestia): Eusebius, quoted by Jerome, noted in Fox 

2009:215 and note 23. 
[15] Barnett 1953; Hammond 1975: 679-680; Burkert 1992: 52; Finkelberg 2005: 140-159; Jasink & Marino, forthcoming. The Phoenician text 

has been republished in K. Lawson Younger 1998. 
[16] Theopompus, FGrH 115 F 103; Callisthenes, FGrH 124 F 32. According to Eusebius, De laudibus Constantini 13.5, the Cilicians 

worshipped Mopsus as a god, possibly as the mythical founder. A statue base of the Roman age found in Sillyum in Pamphylia bears Mopsus' 

name (MOWOT). 
[17] e.g. Finkelberg 2005: 140-159. 
[18] e.g. Drews 1993:48-72. 
[19] Barnett 1953. 
[20] Xanthus, FGrH 765 FIT. 


• Charles Anthon, A Classical Dictionary (1842). 

• R. D. Bamett, 1953. "Mopsos", in: Journal of Hellenic Studies 73 (1953), pp. 140-143. 

• Walter Burkert, 1992. The Orientalizing Revolution: Near Eastern Influence on Early Archaic Greece 
(Cambridge:Harvard University Press). 

• Robert Drews, 1994: The End of the Bronze Age: Changes in Warfare and the Catastrophe ca. 1200 B.C. 
(Princeton Unievrsity Press). 

• Margalit Finkelberg, 2005. Greeks and Pre-Greeks: Aegean Prehistory and Greek Heroic Tradition (Cambridge 
University Press). 

• Robin Lane Fox, Travelling Heropes in the Epic Age of Homer, 2009:206-26. 

• N. G. L. Hammond, 1975. "The End of Mycenaean Civilization and the Dark Age. (b) The Literary Tradition for 
the Migrations", in: The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. II, part 2, ed. by J.E.S. Edwards, C.J. Gadd, N.G.L. 
Hammond and E. Sollberger, (Cambridge University Press), pp. 678—712. 

• Anna Margherita Jasink and Mauro Marino, forthcoming. " The West Anatolian origins of the Que kingdom 
dynasty (", in: Proceedings of the 6th 
International Congress ofHittitology, Roma 5-9 settembre 2005. 

• John Lempriere, 1850. Lempriere's Classical Dictionary. ("Mopsus," p. 422). (London. Bracken Books) Reprint 
1994. paperback. ISBN 1-85891-228-8 

• K. Lawson Younger, 1998. "The Phoenician Inscription of Azatiwada: An Integrated Reading", Journal of 
Semitic Studies 43, pp. 11—47. 

Oileus 232 


In Greek mythology, Oileus (or Oileus ('O'ikevq)) was the king of Locris, and an Argonaut. His father was 

given as Hodoedocus (whom Oileus succeeded as King of Locris) and his mother as Agrianome (daughter of 
Perseon), according to Hyginus's Fabulae. 

In Apollonius Rhodius' Argonautica, Oileus gets wounded in the shoulder during the attack of the Stymphalian Birds 
on the Argo and receives aid from Eribotes. 

Oileus is best known as the father of Ajax the Lesser. There is disagreement as to the name of Ajax's mother: 

Homer names Eriopis as the legal wife of Oileus, but scholiasts cite other authors, some of whom agreed with 
Homer in considering Eriopis (or Eriope) the mother of Ajax, but others stated that the mother of Ajax by Oileus was 

Alcimache, and yet others asserted that Alcimache was simply another name for Eriopis. John Tzetzes listed three 

alternate options: Eriopis, Alcimache, or Astyoche the daughter of Itylus. Oileus was also the father of Medon, 


who is usually regarded as illegitimate; Medon's mother was said to be a nymph named Rhene, though some gave 
Alcimache as his mother. According to Hyginus, Rhene was the mother of Ajax as well. 

Oileus was also the name of a defender of Troy, the charioteer of Bienor, killed by Agamemnon. 


[I] Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 1. 74 
[2] Argonautica Orphica, 191 

[3] Gaius Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica, 1. 372 

[4] Scholia on Iliad, 2. 640 

[5] Hyginus, Fabulae, 14 

[6] Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 2. 1030 ff 

[7] Homer, Iliad, 2. 527 

[8] Bibliotheca 3. 10. 8 

[9] Pausanias, Description of Greece 3. 19. 12—13; 10. 26. 3; 10. 31. 2—3 

[10] Homer, Iliad 13. 697 

[II] Scholia on Iliad 15. 333 & 336 

[12] Tzetzes, Homeric Allegories, Prologue, 543—545 

[13] Homer, Iliad, 2. 727 

[14] Scholia on Iliad, 13.694 

[15] Hyginus, Fabulae, 97 

[16] Homer, Iliad, 11.92 








Hephaestus at the Forge by Guillaume Coustou the Younger (Louvre) 

God of Fire, Metalworking, Stone masonry, and the Art of Sculpture. 

Mount Olympus 

Roman equivalent 

Hammer, Anvil, Tongs, and/or quail 
Aphrodite, Aglaea 

Hera and Zeus, or Hera alone 
Ares, Eileithyia, Enyo and Hebe 

Thalia, Eucleia, Eupheme, Philophrosyne, Palikoi, Kabeiroi, Kabeirides and Euthenia 

Hephaestus ( 4 /hl'fi:st9s/, /he'festes/ or /ht'festes/; 8 spellings; Ancient Greek "HcpaLOTOQ Hephaistos) was a 
Greek god whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan. He is the son of Zeus and Hera, the King and Queen of the Gods - 
or else, according to some accounts, of Hera alone. He was the god of technology, blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, 
sculptors, metals, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes. 

Like other mythic smiths but unlike most other gods, Hephaestus was lame, which gave him a grotesque appearance 
in Greek eyes. He served as the blacksmith of the gods, and he was worshipped in the manufacturing and industrial 
centres of Greece, particularly in Athens. The center of his cult was in Lemnos. Hephaestus's symbols are a smith's 
hammer, an anvil and a pair of tongs. 



Hephaestus is given many epithets, some of which include: 

Amphigueis "the lame one" (a^KpLyuELi;) 

Kullopodion "the halting" (kuXXojioSlcdv) 

Chalkeus "coppersmith" (xccXkeik;) 

Klutotechnes "renowned artificer" {Kkvxoxiyyf]^) 

Polumetis "shrewd, crafty" or "of many devices" (jiokv\ix\x\,<^) 

Aetnaeus, owing to his workshop supposedly being located below Mount Aetna 





The craft of Hephaestus 

Hephaestus had his own palace on Olympus: it contained his workshop 
replete with an anvil and twenty bellows, which worked at his bidding. 
(II. xviii. 370, &c.) Hephaestus crafted much of the magnificent 
equipment of the gods, and almost any finely-wrought metalwork 
imbued with powers that appears in Greek myth is said to have been 
forged by Hephaestus: Hermes' winged helmet and sandals, the Aegis 
breastplate, Aphrodite's famed girdle, Agamemnon's staff of office, 
Achilles' armor, Heracles' bronze clappers, Helios' chariot as well as 
his own due to his lameness, the shoulder of Pelops, Eros' bow and 
arrows. In later accounts, Hephaestus worked with the help of the 
chthonic Cyclopes, his assistants in the forge, Brontes, Steropes and 
Pyracmon among them . (Virg. Aen. viii. 416, &c.) 

He also built automatons of metal to work for him. This included 
tripods that walked to and from Mount Olympus. He gave to blinded 
Orion his apprentice Cedalion as a guide. In one version of the myth, 
Prometheus stole the fire that he gave to man from Hephaestus's forge. 
Hephaestus also created the gift that the gods gave to man, the woman 
Pandora and her pithos. Being a skilled blacksmith, Hephaestus created 

all the thrones in the Palace of Olympus 



Vulcan (Roman counterpart of Hephaestus) by 
Peter Paul Rubens. 

In the mainstream tradition, clearly attested in Homer's Odyssey and 
perhaps also in the Iliad (and supported by Attic vase paintings), Hephaestus was born of the union of Zeus and 
Hera. In another tradition, attested by Hesiod, Hera bore Hephaestus alone. This clashes with the common story 
where Hephaestus split the head of Zeus, for Hephaestus is there represented as older than Athena. 

Fall from Olympus 

According to one version, Hera threw Hephaestus down from the heavens because he was "shrivelled of foot". He 
fell into the ocean and was brought up by Thetis (mother of Achilles) and the Oceanid Eurynome. 

In another account, Hephaestus, attempting to rescue his mother from Zeus, was flung down by Zeus. He fell for an 
entire day and landed on the island of Lemnos, where he was cared for and taught to be a master craftsman by the 
Sintians, an ancient tribe native to that island. (Horn. II. i. 590, &c. Val. Flacc. ii. 8.5; Apollod. i. 3. § 5, who, 
however, confounds the two occasions on which Hephaestus was thrown from Olympus.) Later writers describe his 
lameness as the consequence of his second fall, while Homer makes him lame and weak from his birth. 



Return to Olympus 

Hephaestus was the only Olympian said to have returned to Olympus after being exiled. 

In an archaic story, Hephaestus gained revenge against Hera for rejecting him by making her a magical golden 

throne, which, when she sat on it, did not allow her to leave it. The other gods begged Hephaestus to return to 

Olympus to let her go, but he refused, saying "I have no mother". 

At last Dionysus, sent to fetch him, shared his wine, 
intoxicating the smith, and took him back to Olympus 
on the back of a mule accompanied by revelers, a scene 
that sometimes appears on painted pottery of Attica and 
in Corinth, as well. In the painted scenes the padded 
dancers and phallic figures of the Dionysan throng 
leading the mule show that the procession was a part of 
the dithyrambic celebrations that were the forerunners, 
in Athens, of the satyr plays of the fifth century. 

The theme of the return of Hephaestus, popular among 
the Attic vase-painters whose wares were favored 
among the Etruscans, may have carried this theme to 


Etruria. As vase-painters portrayed the procession, 
Hephaestus was mounted on a mule or a horse, 
accompanied by Dionysus, who held the bridle and carried Hephaestus' tools, which include a double-headed axe. 

The traveller Pausanias reported seeing a painting in the temple of Dionysus in Athens, which had been built in the 
5th century but may have been decorated at any time before the 2nd century CE, when Pausanias saw it: 

"There are paintings here — Dionysus bringing Hephaestus up to heaven. One of the Greek legends is 
that Hephaestus, when he was born, was thrown down by Hera. In revenge he sent as a gift a golden 
chair with invisible fetters. When Hera sat down she was held fast, and Hephaestus refused to listen to 
any other of the gods save Dionysus — in him he reposed the fullest trust — and after making him drunk 

The western face of the Doric temple of Hephaestus, Agora of 

Dionysus brought him to heaven. 


Consorts and children 

According to most versions, Hephaestus's consort is Aphrodite, who cheats on him with a number of gods and 
mortals, including the god Ares. However, in Homer's Iliad, the consort of Hephaestus is a lesser Aphrodite, Charis 
"the grace" or Aglaia "the glorious", the youngest of the Graces, as Hesiod calls her. 

There is a Temple of Hephaestus in Athens, the Hephaesteum (miscalled the "Theseum"), located near the agora, or 
marketplace. An Athenian founding myth tells that the city's patron goddess, Athena, refused a union with 
Hephaestus because of his unsightly appearance and crippled nature, and that when he became angry and forceful 
with her, she disappeared from the bed. His ejaculate fell on the earth, impregnating Gaia, who subsequently gave 
birth to Erichthonius of Athens; then the surrogate mother gave the child to Athena to foster, guarded by a 

On the island of Lemnos, his consort was the sea nymph Cabeiro, by whom he was the father of two metalworking 
gods named the Cabeiri. 

In Sicily, his consort was the nymph Aetna, and his sons two gods of Sicilian geysers called Palici. With Thalia, 
Hephaestus was sometimes considered the father of the Palici. 

Hephaestus fathered several children with mortals and immortals alike. One of those children was the robber 

Hephaestus 236 

This is the full list of his consorts and children according to the various accounts: 

1 . Aphrodite 

2. Aglaea 

1. Eucleia 

2. Euthenia 

3. Eupheme 

4. Philophrosyne 

3. Aetna 

1 . The Palici 

4. Cabeiro 

1 . The Cabeiri 

5. Gaia 

1 . Erichthonius 

6. Anticleia 

1 . Periphetes 

7. by unknown mothers 

1 . Ardalus 

2. Cercyon (possibly) 

3. Olenus 

4. Palaemonius, Argonaut 

5. Philottus 

6. Pylius 

7. Spinter 

In addition, the Romans claim their equivalent god, Vulcan, to have produced the following children: 

1. Cacus 

2. Caeculus 

Hephaestus and Aphrodite 

Hephaestus, being the most unfaltering of the gods, was given Aphrodite's hand in marriage by Zeus in order to 
prevent conflict over her between the other gods. 

Hephaestus and Aphrodite had an arranged marriage and Aphrodite, disliking the idea of being married to unsightly 
Hephaestus, began an affair with Ares, the god of war. Eventually, Hephaestus found out about Aphrodite's 
promiscuity from Helios, the all-seeing Sun, and planned a trap for them during one of their trysts. While Aphrodite 
and Ares lay together in bed, Hephaestus ensnared them in an unbreakable chain-link net so small as to be invisible 
and dragged them to Mount Olympus to shame them in front of the other gods for retribution. 

However, the gods laughed at the sight of these naked lovers and Poseidon persuaded Hephaestus to free them in 
return for a guarantee that Ares would pay the adulterer's fine. Hephaestus states in the Odyssey that he would return 
Aphrodite to her father and demand back his bride price: this is the one episode that links them. 

The Thebans told that the union of Ares and Aphrodite produced Harmonia, as lovely as a second Aphrodite. But of 
the union of Hephaestus with Aphrodite, there was no issue, unless Virgil was serious when he said that Eros was 
their child. Later authors might explain this statement when they say the love-god was sired by Ares but passed 
off to Hephaestus as his own son. 

Hephaestus was somehow connected with the archaic, pre-Greek Phrygian and Thracian mystery cult of the 
Kabeiroi, who were also called the Hephaistoi, "the Hephaestus-men," in Lemnos. One of the three Lemnian tribes 

Hephaestus 237 

also called themselves Hephaestion and claimed direct descent from the god. 

Hephaestus and Athena 

Hephaestus is to the male gods as Athena is to the females, for he gives skill to mortal artists and was believed to 
have taught men the arts alongside Athena. (Od. vi. 233, xxiii. 160. Hymn, in Vaulc. 2. &c.) He was nevertheless 
believed to be far inferior to the sublime character of Athena. At Athens they had temples and festivals in common. 
(See Diet of Ant. s. v. Hephaisteia, Chalkeia.) Both were believed to have great healing powers, and Lemnian earth 
(terra Lemnia) from the spot on which Hephaestus had fallen was believed to cure madness, the bites of snakes, and 
haemorrhage, and priests of Hephaestus knew how to cure wounds inflicted by snakes. (Philostr. Heroic, v. 2; 
Eustath. ad Horn. p. 330; Diet. Cret. ii. 14.) 

He was represented in the temple of Athena Chalcioecus (Athena of the Bronze House )at Sparta, in the act of 

delivering his mother (Paus. iii. 17. § 3); on the chest of Cypselus, giving Achilles's armour to Thetis (v. 19. § 2); 

and at Athens there was the famous statue of Hephaestus by Alcamenes, in which his lameness was only subtly 

portrayed. (Cic. de Nat. Deor. i. 30; Val. Max. viii. 11. § 3.) The Greeks frequently placed small dwarf-like statues of 

Hephaestus near their hearths, and these figures are the oldest of all his representations. (Herod, iii. 37; Aristoph. Av. 

436; Callim. Hymnn. in Dian. 60.) During the best period of Grecian art he was represented as a vigorous man with a 

beard, and is characterised by his hammer or some other crafting tool, his oval cap, and the Chiton (costume). 

Volcano god 

Hephaestus was identified by Greek colonists in southern Italy with the volcano gods Adranus (of Mount Etna) and 
Vulcanus of the Lipari islands. His forge was moved to the Lipari by the poets. The first-century sage Apollonius of 

Tyana is said to have observed, "there are many other mountains all over the earth that are on fire, and yet we should 

never be done with it if we assigned to them giants and gods like Hephaestus". 


In the Trojan war he sided with the Greeks, but he was also worshipped by the Trojans and saved one of their men 
from being killed by Diomedes. (II. v. 9, &c.) 

His favourite place in the mortal world was the island of Lemnos, where he liked to dwell among the Sintians (Od. 
viii. 283, &c, II. i. 593; Ov Fast. viii. 82), but he also frequented other volcanic islands such as Lipara, Hiera, Imbros 
and Sicily, which are called his abodes or workshops. (Apollon. Rhod iii. 41; Callim. Hymn, in Dian. 47; Serv. ad 
Aen. viii. 416; Strab. p. 275; Plin. H. N. iii. 9; Val. Flacc. ii. 96.) 

The epithets and surnames by which Hephaestus is designated by the poets generally allude to his skill in the plastic 
arts or to his figure and his lameness. 

The Greeks frequently placed small dwarf-like statues of Hephaestus near their hearths, and these figures are the 
oldest of all his representations. (Herod, iii. 37; Aristoph. Av. 436; Callim. Hymnn. in Dian. 60.) 

Hephaestus was sometimes portrayed as a vigorous man with a beard, and was characterised by his hammer or some 
other crafting tool, his oval cap, and the Chiton (costume). 


Hephaestus was reported in myth as cholos, "lame", and epedanos, "halting". He was depicted with crippled feet, 
and misshapen, either from birth or as a result of his fall from Olympus. In vase-paintings, Hephaestus is usually 
shown lame and bent over his anvil, hard at work on a metal creation, his feet sometimes back-to-front: Hephaistos 
amphigyeeis. He walked with the aid of a stick. The Argonaut Palaimonius, "son of Hephaestus" (i.e. a bronze-smith) 
was also lame. 

Hephaestus 238 

Other "sons of Hephaestus" were the Cabeiri on the island of Samothrace; they were identified with the crab 
(karkinos) by the lexicographer Hesychius, and the adjective karkinopous ("crab-footed") signified "lame", 
according to Detienne and Vernant. The Cabeiri were seen as lame too. 

In some myths, Hephaestus built himself a "wheeled chair" or chariot with which to move around, thus helping him 

overcome his lameness while showing the other gods his skill. In Homer's Iliad it is said that Hephaestus built 

some bronze human machines to help him get around. 

Hephaestus's ugly appearance and lameness is taken by some to represent arsenicosis, an effect of low levels of 
arsenic exposure that would result in lameness and skin cancers. In place of less easily available tin, arsenic was 
added to copper in the Bronze Age to harden it; like the hatters, crazed by their exposure to mercury, who inspired 
Lewis Carroll's famous character of the Mad Hatter, most smiths of the Bronze Age would have suffered from 


chronic poisoning as a result of their livelihood. Consequently, the mythic image of the lame smith is widespread. 

Comparative mythology 

Parallels in other mythological systems for Hephaestos's symbolism include the following: 

• In Ugarit, the craftsman-god Kothar Hasis is identified from afar by his distinctive walk, possibly suggesting that 
he limps. 

• In Egypt, Herodotus was given to understand, the craftsman-god Ptah was a dwarf. 

• In Norse mythology there was the lame bronzeworker Weyland the Smith. 

Minor planet 

The minor planet 2212 Hephaistos discovered in 1978 by Soviet astronomer Lyudmila Chernykh is named in his 


[I] Walter Burkert, Greek Religion 1985: III.2.ii; see coverage of Lemnos-based traditions and legends at Mythic Lemnos) 
[2] Walter Burkert, Greek Religion 1985: III.2.ii; see coverage of Lemnos-based traditions and legends at Mythic Lemnos) 

[3] Autenrieth, Georg (1891). A Homeric Dictionary for Schools and Colleges. United States of America: Harper and Brothers. 
[4] Aelian, Hist. An. xi. 3, referenced under Aetnaeus ( 

69?page=root;size=100;view=image) in William Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology 
[5] its provenance recounted in Iliad II 

[6] Graves, Robert (1960). "The Palace of Olympus". Greek Gods and Heroes. United States of America: Dell Laurel-Leaf. pp. 150. 
[7] Graves, Robert (1960). "The Palace of Olympus". Greek Gods and Heroes. United States of America: Dell Laurel-Leaf. pp. 150. 
[8] In Homer, Odyssey viii. 312 Hephaestus addresses "Father Zeus"; cf. Homer, Iliad i. 578 (some scholars, such as Gantz, note that Hephaestus' 

reference to Zeus as 'father' here may be a general title), xiv. 338, xviii. 396, xxi. 332. See also Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3.22. 
[9] Hesiod, Theogony 924ff. In Hesiod's Zeus-centered cosmology, Hera gave birth to Hephaestus in order to get back at Zeus for his asexual 

birthing of Athena. Several late texts also attest this, e.g. Bibliotheke i. 3.5 (consciously contradicting Homer); Hyginus, Preface to Fabulae. 

However, Attic vase-painters illustrated the mainstream tradition that Hephaestus was present at the birth of Athena, seen to be wielding the 

axe with which he had split Zeus' head to free her. 
[10] Homeric Hymn to Apollo 316—321 (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999. 01. 0138:hymn=3:card=305); 

Homer, Iliad 395-405 ( 

[II] Homer, Iliad 1.590-594 (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999.01. 0134:book=l:card=568) 

[12] Features within the narrative suggest its archaic nature to Kerenyi and others; the fullest literary account, however, is a late one, in the 

Roman rhetorician Libanios, according to Guy Hedreen, "The Return of Hephaistos, Dionysiac Processional Ritual and the Creation of a 

Visual Narrative" The Journal of Hellenic Studies 124 (2004:38-64) p. 38 and note. 
[13] A section "The Binding of Hera" is devoted to this archaic theme in Karl Kerenyi, The Gods of the Greeks (1951, pp 156-58) who refers to 

this "ancient story", which is one of the "tales of guileful deeds performed by cunning gods, mostly at a time when they had not joined the 

family on Olympus". 
[14] Kerenyi 1951:157. 
[15] Axel Seeberg, "Hephaistos Rides Again" The Journal of Hellenic Studies 85 (1965), pp. 102-109, describes and illustrates four pieces of 

Corinthian painted pottery with the theme; a black red-figure calpis in the collection of Marsden J. Perry was painted with the return of 

Hephaestus 239 

Hephaestus (L. G. Eldridge, "An Unpublished Calpis", American Journal of Archaeology 21.1 (January - March 1917:38-54). 
[16] The significance of the subject for the pre-history of Greek drama is argued by T.B.L. Webster, "Some thoughts on the pre-history of Greek 

drama", Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 5 ((1958) pp 43ff; more recently, see Guy Hedreen 2004:38-64. 
[17] The return of Hephaestus was painted on the Etruscan tomb at the "Grotta Campana" near Veii (identified by Petersen, Uber die dlteste 

etruskische Wandmdlerei (Rome, 1902) pp 149ff; the "well-known subject" was doubted in this instance by A. M. Harmon, "The Paintings of 

the Grotta Campana", American Journal of Archaeology 16.1 (January - March 1912): 1-10); 
[18] Pausanias, 1.20.3. 
[19] Hesiod, Theogony 945 

[20] Hyginus made an imaginative etymology for Erichthonius, of strife (Eris) between Athena and Hephaestus and the Earth-child (chthonios). 
[21] Aeneid i.664 
[22] The Museum of Goddess Athena, Sanctuary of Athena Chalkiokos at Sparta ( 

[23] Life of Apollonius of'Tyana, book v. 16. 
[24] Odyssey 8.308 (; Iliad 18.397 ( 

hopper/text ?doc=Hom.+Il. +18. 397), etc. 
[25] Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica i.204. 
[26] Detienne, Marcel; Vernant, Jean-Pierre (1978). Cunning Intelligence in Greek Culture and Society. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities 

Press, pp. 269-272. ISBN 0-391-00740-8. Cited by Silver, Morris (1992). Taking Ancient Mythology Economically. New York: Brill, p. 35 

note 5. ISBN 90-04-09706-6. 
[27] Dolmage, Jay (2006). '"Breathe Upon Us an Even Flame': Hephaestus, History, and the Body of Rhetoric". Rhetoric Review 25 (2): 1 19— 140 

[p. 120]. doi:10.1207/sl5327981rr2502_l. 
[28] Saggs, H. W. F. (1989). Civilization Before Greece and Rome. New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 200-201. ISBN 0-300-04440-2. 
[29] Baruch Margalit, Aqhat Epic 1989:289. 
[30] Herodotus, iii.36. 
[31] Schmadel, Lutz D. (2003). Dictionary of Minor P/anef Names ( 

(5th ed.). New York: Springer Verlag. pp. 180. ISBN 3-540-00238-3. . 

External links 

• Theoi Project, Hephaestus (http;//www. html) in classical literature and art 

• Greek Mythology Link, Hephaestus ( summary of the myths 
of Hephaestus 




In Greek mythology, Peleus ( 4 /'peljuls/; Greek: IIi^eix;, Peleus) was a hero 
whose myth was already known to the hearers of Homer in the late 8th century 
BC. Peleus was the son of Aeacus, king of the island of Aegina, and Endei's, 
the oread of Mount Pelion in Thessaly; he was the father of Achilles. He and 
his brother Telamon were friends of Heracles, serving in his expedition against 
the Amazons, his war against King Laomedon, and with him in the quest for the 
Golden Fleece. Though there were no further kings in Aegina, the kings of 
Epirus claimed descent from Peleus in the historic period 


Peleus consigns Achilles to Chiron's 

care, white-ground lekythos by the 

Edinburgh Painter, ca. 500 BC, 

(National Archaeological Museum of 


Life myth 

Peleus and his brother Telamon killed their half-brother Phocus, perhaps in a 
hunting accident and certainly in an unthinking moment, and fled Aegina to 
escape punishment. In Phthia, Peleus was purified by Eurytion and married 
Antigone, Eurytion's daughter, by whom he had a daughter, Polydora. Eurytion 
received the barest mention among the Argonauts, where Peleus and Telamon 
were also present, "yet not together, nor from one place, for they dwelt far apart 
and distant from Aigina; but Peleus accidentally killed Eurytion during the 
hunt for the Calydonian Boar and fled from Phthia. 

Peleus was purified of the murder of Eurytion in Iolcus by Acastus. Astydameia, Acastus' wife, fell in love with 
Peleus but he scorned her. Bitter, she sent a messenger to Antigone to tell her that Peleus was to marry Acastus' 
daughter. As a result, Antigone hanged herself. 

Astydameia then told Acastus that Peleus had tried to rape her. Acastus took Peleus on a hunting trip and hid his 
sword then abandoned him right before a group of centaurs attacked. Chiron, the wise centaur, or, according to 
another source, Hermes, returned Peleus' sword with magical powers and Peleus managed to escape. He pillaged 
Iolcus and dismembered Astydameia, then marched his army between the rended limbs. Acastus and Astydamia 
were dead and the kingdom fell to Jason's son, Thessalus. 



Marriage to Thetis 

After Antigone's death, Peleus married the 
sea-nymph Thetis. He was able to win her with 
the aid of Proteus, who told Peleus how to 


overcome Thetis' ability to change her form. 
Their wedding feast was attended by many of the 
Olympian gods. As a wedding present, Poseidon 
gave Peleus two immortal horses: Balius and 
Xanthus. During the feast, Eris produced the 
Apple of Discord, which started the quarrel that 
led to the Judgement of Paris and eventually to 
the Trojan War. The marriage of Peleus and 
Thetis produced a son, Achilles. 

Peleus' son Achilles 

Thetis attempted to render her son Achilles 

invulnerable. In a familiar version, she dipped 

him in the River Styx, holding him by one heel, 

which remained vulnerable. In an early and less 

popular version of the story, Thetis anointed the 

boy in ambrosia and put him on top of a fire to burn away the mortal parts of his body. She was interrupted by Peleus 

and she abandoned both father and son in a rage, leaving his heel vulnerable. A nearly identical story is told by 

Plutarch, in his On Isis and Osiris, of the goddess Isis burning away the mortality of Prince Maneros of Byblos, son 

of Queen Astarte, and being likewise interrupted before completing the process. 

Peleus gave Achilles to the centaur Chiron, to raise on Mt. Pelion, which took its name from Peleus. 
In the Iliad, Achilles uses Peleus' immortal horses and also wields his father's spear. 

Peleus makes off with his prize bride Thetis, who has vainly assumed animal 
forms to escape him: Boeotian black-figure dish, ca. 500 BC^t75 BC 

Peleus in hero-cult 

Though the tomb of Aeacus remained in a shrine enclosure in the most conspicuous part of the port city, a 
quadrangular enclosure of white marble sculpted with bas-reliefs, in the form in which Pausanias saw it, with the 
tumulus of Phocus nearby, there was no temenos of Peleus at Aegina. Two versions of Peleus' fate account for this; 
in Euripides' Troades, Acastus, son of Pelias, has exiled him from Phthia; and subsequently he died in exile; in 
another, he was reunited with Thetis and made immortal. 

In antiquity, according to a fragment of Callimachus' lost Aitia, there was a tomb of Peleus in Ikos (modern 
Alonissos), an island of the northern Sporades; there Peleus was venerated as "king of the Myrmidons" and the 


"return of the hero" was celebrated annually. And there was his tomb, according to a poem in the Greek 
Anthology. [13] 

The only other reference to veneration of Peleus comes from the Christian Clement of Alexandria, in his polemical 
Exhortation to the Greeks. Clement attributes his source to a "collection of marvels" by a certain "Monimos" of 
whom nothing is known, and claims, in pursuit of his thesis that da/mon-worshipers become as cruel as their gods, 
that in "Pella of Thessaly human sacrifice is offered to Peleus and Cheiron, the victim being an Achaean". Of this, 
the continuing association of Peleus and Chiron is the most dependable detail. 

Peleus 242 

Peleus in Athenian tragedy 

A Peleus by Sophocles is lost. He appears as a character in Euripides' tragedy Andromache (c. 425 BC). 


[I] Peleus is mentioned in Homer's Odyssey during the conversation between Odysseus and the dead Achilles. 

[2] The island lies in the Saronic Gulf opposite the coast of Epidaurus; it had once been called Oenone, Pausanias was informed. 
[3] In poetry he and Telamon are sometimes the Endeides, the "sons of Endeis"; see, for example, Pausanias 2.29.10. 
[4] Pausanias, 2.29.4. 

[5] "A witless moment" (Apollonius, Argonautica, I. 93, 

[6] Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica 1.90-93, in Peter Green's translation (2007:45). 
[7] Aristophanes, The Clouds, 1063-1067. 
[8] Ovid, Metamorphoses, XI 219-74. 
[9] Pausanias, 2.29.6-7 

[10] Scholia on Euripides, Troades 1 123-28 note that in some accounts the sons of Acastus have cast him out, and that he was received by Molon 
in his exile 

[II] One of the fragmentary Oxyrhynchus papyri, noted by Lewis Richard Farnell, Greek Hero Cults and Ideas of Immortality: the Gifford 
Lectures, "The Cults of Epic Heroes: Peleus" 1921:310f 

[12] Farnell 1921:310f; Farnell remarks on "some ethnic tradition that escapes us, but which led the inhabitants to attach the name of Peleus to 
some forgotten grave," so deep was the cultural discontinuity between Mycenaean Greece and the rise of hero-cults in the 8th century BC. 

[13] Greek Anthology, 7.2. 

[14] George William Butterworth, ed. and tr.Clement of Alexandria, "Exhortation to the Greeks" 1919:93. 

[15] By way of apology for Clement, Farnell suggests "human sacrifice was occasionally an adjunct of hero-cults, and this at Pella may have 
been an exceptional rite prescribed at a crisis by some later oracle." (Farnell 1921:311). Dennis D. Hughes, Human Sacrifice in Ancient 
Greece (Routledge, 1991) offers a skeptical view of the actuality of human sacrifices during historical times. 


• Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke I, ix, 16 and III, ix,2 and xii, 6- xiii,7; Epitome vi, 13. 

• Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica IV, 805- 879 

• Ovid, Metamorphoses VIII, 299-38 1 . 

• Homer, Iliad XVIII, 78-87; 

• Catullus, Poem 64 

• Euripides, Andromache. 




Philoctetes (Greek: OlXokti'^ti]<;, Philoctetes; English 
pronunciation: 4 /fll9k'ti:ti:z/, stressed on the third 
syllable, -tet- ), or Philocthetes, was, according to 
Greek mythology, the son of King Poeas of Meliboea 
in Thessaly. He was a Greek hero, famed as an archer, 
and was a participant in the Trojan War. He was the 
subject of at least two plays by Sophocles, one of 
which is named after him, and one each by both 
Aeschylus and Euripides. However, only one 
Sophoclean play survives — Aeschylus' Philoctetes, 
Euripides' Philoctetes and Sophocles Philoctetes at 
Troy are all lost except for some fragments. He is also 
mentioned in Homer's Iliad; Book 2 describes his exile 
on the island of Lemnos, his wound by snake-bite, and 
his eventual recall by the Greeks. The recall of 
Philoctetes is told in the lost epic Little Iliad, where his 
retrieval was accomplished by Odysseus and 
Diomedes. Philoctetes killed three men at Troy. 

The stories 

Philoctetes was the son of King Poeas of the city of Meliboea in Thessaly. He was considered one of the lovers of 
the hero Heracles, and when Heracles wore the shirt of Nessus and built his funeral pyre, no one would light it for 
him except for Philoctetes or in other versions his father Poeas. This gained him the favor of the newly deified 
Heracles. Because of this, Philoctetes or Poeas is given Heracles' bow and poisoned arrows. 

Philoctetes was one of the many eligible Greeks who competed for the hand of Helen, the Spartan princess; 
according to legend, she was the most beautiful woman in the world. As such, he was required to participate in the 
conflict to reclaim her for Menelaus in the Trojan War. Philoctetes was stranded on the Island of Lemnos or Chryse 
by the Greeks on the way to Troy. There are at least four separate tales about what happened to strand Philoctetes on 
his journey to Troy, but all indicate that he received a wound on his foot that festered and had a terrible smell. One 
version holds that Philoctetes was bitten by a snake that Hera sent to molest him as punishment for his or his father's 
service to Heracles. Another tradition says that the Greeks forced Philoctetes to show them where Heracles's ashes 
were deposited. Philoctetes would not break his oath by speech, so he went to the spot and placed his foot upon the 
site. Immediately, he was injured in the foot that touched the soil over the ashes. Yet another tradition has it that 
when the Achaeans, en route to Troy at the beginning of the war, came to the island of Tenedos, Achilles angered 
Apollo by killing King Tenes, allegedly the god's son. When, in expiation, the Achaeans offered a sacrifice to 
Apollo, a snake came out from the altar and bit Philoctetes. Finally, it is said that Philoctetes received his terrible 
wound on the island of Chryse, when he unknowingly trespassed into the shrine of the nymph after whom the island 
was named (this is the version in the extant play by Sophocles). A modern interpretation of the cause of his wound is 
that he was scratched by a poisoned arrow. Commonly tips of arrows were poisoned with a combination of 
fermented viper venom, blood or plasma, and feces. Even a scratch would result in death, sometimes drawn out. A 
person who survives would do so with a festering wound. 

Regardless of the cause of the wound, Philoctetes was exiled by the Greeks and was angry at the treatment he 
received from Odysseus, King of Ithaca, who had advised the Atreidae to strand him. Medon took control of 

Marble Slab with the Recall of Philoctetes ■ 
Archeological Museum of Brauron 

Philoctetes 244 

Philoctetes' men, and Philoctetes himself remained on Lemnos, alone, for ten years. 

Helenus, the prophetic son of King Priam of Troy, was forced to 

reveal, under torture, that one of the conditions of the Greeks' winning 

the war was that they needed the bow and arrows of Heracles. Upon 

hearing this, Odysseus and a group of men (usually including 

Diomedes) rushed back to Lemnos to recover Heracles' weapons. (As 

Sophocles writes it in his play named Philoctetes, Odysseus is 

accompanied by Neoptolemus, Achilles' son, also known as Pyrrhus. 

Other versions of the myth don't include Neoptolemus.) Surprised to 

find the archer alive, the Greeks balked on what to do next. Odysseus 

tricked the weaponry away from Philoctetes, but Diomedes refused to 

take the weapons without the man. Heracles, who had become a god 

many years earlier, came down from Olympus and told Philoctetes to 

go and that he would be healed by the son of Asclepius and win great honor as a hero of the Achaean army. Once 

back in military company outside Troy, they employed either Machaon the surgeon (who may have been killed by 

Eurypylus of Mysia, son of Telephus, depending on the account) or more likely Podalirius the physician, both sons 

of the immortal physician Asclepius, to heal his wound permanently. Philoctetes challenged and would have killed 

Paris, son of Priam, in single combat were it not for the debates over future Greek strategy. In one telling it was 

Philoctetes that killed Paris, he fired four times, the first arrow went wide, the second struck his bow hand, the third 

hit him in the right eye, the fourth hit him in the heel, there was no need of a fifth shot. Philoctetes sided with 

Neoptolemus about continuing to try to storm the city. They were the only two to think so because they had not had 

the war-weariness of the prior ten years. Afterward, Philoctetes was among those chosen to hide inside the Trojan 

Horse, and during the sack of the city he killed many famed Trojans. 

After the war, he returned home to Meliboea, where he found a revolt. From there he went to Italy where he founded 
the towns of Petilia and Crimissa in Calabria and established the Brutti. He also aided Sicilian Greeks. When he 
died, he was buried next to the Sybaris River. 

Modern literature 

• The legend of Philoctetes was used by Andre Gide in his play Philoctete. 

• The East German postmodern dramatist Heiner Miiller produced a successful adaptation of Sophocles' play in 
1968 in Munich. It became one of his most-performed plays. 

• Philoctetes appears in Seamus Heaney's play The Cure at Troy, a "version" of Sophocles' Philoctetes. 

• John Jesurun wrote the Philoktetes-variations in 1993 on Ron Vawter's request, it was the actor's last piece of 
work, considered his artistic testament, being performed while the actor was dying of AIDS. The play has 
consequently also become a metaphor for AIDS, with Philoktetes as a plagued outcast. 

Philoctetes 245 


• The myth of Philoctetes is the inspiration for William Wordsworth's sonnet "When Philoctetes in the Lemnian 
Isle," though here the thematic focus is not the Greek warrior's magical bow or gruesome injury, but his 
abandonment. The poem is about the companionship and solace provided by Nature when all human society has 
been withdrawn. 

• Philoctetes being retrieved by Neoptolemus is the subject of the Greek poet Yannis Ritsos' long poem 
"Philoctetes" (1963—1965), a monologue in which the youth Neoptolemus convinces Philoctetes to follow him 
back to the war that will be won by the ruse of the Trojan Horse. Disguise and seeming are the subject of the 

"No one will comprehend your freedom's unmarred joy / or be frightened by it ever. The mask of action, 
/ which I have brought you hidden in my pack, will conceal / your remote, transparent face. Put it on. 
Let's be going." 
(Translated by Peter Bien) 

• Philoctetes appears as a character in two Michael Ondaatje poems, entitled "The Goodnight" and "Philoctetes On 
The Island." Both appear in his 1979 book, There's a trick with a knife I'm learning to do. 

• Derek Walcott's modern Caribbean epic, Omeros, includes a character named Philoctete; he receives a wound and 
clearly alludes to the Greek narrative. 

• Philoctetes is mentioned in Poem VIII of "21 Love Poems" by Adrienne Rich: 

"I can see myself years back at Sunion, hurting with an inflated foot, Philoctetes in woman's form, 
limping the long path, lying on a headland over the dark sea, looking down the red rocks to where a 
soundless curl of white told me a wave had struck, imagining the pull of that water from that height, 
knowing deliberate suicide wasn't my metier, yet all the time nursing, measuring that wound." 

Chapter 1 1 of Ursula Krechel's long poem Stimmen aus dem harten Kern (2005) focuses on Philoctetes. (Bilingual 
edition Voices from the Bitter Core, trans. Amy Kepple Strawser 2010.) 

The Odyssey 


• The legend of Philoctetes was, in part, the inspiration for Robert Silverberg's science fiction novel The Man in the 

• In the novel, The Division Of The Spoils, the last part of The Raj Quartet by Paul Scott, filmed as the TV series 
The Jewel In The Crown in 1984, "Philoctetes" is used as his pen name by Hari Kumar for his articles in the 
Ranpur Gazette. 

• In Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano, Hugh Firmin escapes his British upbringing by enlisting as a sailor on 
the ship Philoctetes. 

• In the 1998 novel Sirena by Donna Jo Napoli, Philoctetes is included as a main character. The book focuses on 
the title character Sirena, a mermaid who falls in love with Philoctetes, during his stay on Lemnos. The main 
conflict of the book is overcoming the differences between species, and the differences in longevity, by his love 
she gains immortality, and Sirena's doubts of whether his love is true or a result of her enchanted song. She cared 
for him and tended to his wounds, caused by a serpent of Hera. They would heal during the day, and return at 
night. In the novel it is Achilles's son, Neoptolemus, who refuses to leave Philoctetes behind, but after having 
them returned, he leaves a single arrow with her, and returns to Greece. 

• Mark Merlis features a version of Philoctetes in his 1998 AIDS-themed novel An Arrow's Flight. 

• Philoctetes makes several appearances in the 2007 French novel/collection of linked short stories La chaussure 
sur le toit by Vincent Delecroix. In L'element tragique', Philoctete is a character who has been abandoned with a 
weapon and a festering leg wound on the roof of Parisian apartment building; a Ulysse and a young Neoptoleme 

Philoctetes 246 

are also part of the story. In another related story, 'Caractere de chien', a dog narrates the story of his master, a 
writer so obsessed with the story of Philoctete and overcome by the notion of abandonment that it becomes a 
self-fulfilling prophecy. 


• Philoctetes makes an appearance in the 1997 animated movie Hercules. In it, Philoctetes (usually referred to 
simply as "Phil") is a satyr and Hercules' trainer. He is voiced by Danny DeVito. 


• The Torchwood episode "Greeks Bearing Gifts" has the alien serial-killer Mary (played by Daniella Denby-Ashe) 
refer to herself as Philoctetes, in reference to his exile on Lemnos. She was transported to Earth for crimes which 
she described as "political" but her testimony is probably untrustworthy. Unlike classical Philoctetes, she is not 
recalled to her home but, rather, consigned by Captain Jack to the center of the Sun. 


• Sophocles' play forms the basis of an essay by Edmund Wilson The Wound and the Bow, in the book of the same 

Modern art 

• "Philoctetes on the Island of Lemnos" by James Barry, 1770, now in the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Bologna (Image 

[4] ). 

• "The Wounded Philoctetes" by Nikolaj Abraham Abildgaard, 1775, now in the Statens Museum for Kunst in 
Copenhagen, which is also used as the front cover for the Penguin Classics edition of the novel, Frankenstein, by 
Mary Shelley. (Image ). 

• "Philoctetes on Lemnos" by Jean Germain Drouais, 1788, now in the Musee des Beaux-Arts in Chartres (Image 

• "Dying Philoctetes" by Vincenzo Baldacci, 1807, now in the Pinacoteca Comunale in Cesena (Image) 


] ) 

"Wounded Philoctetes" by Herman Wilhelm Bissen, now in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen (Image 


[1] John C. Wells, Longman pronunciation dictionary, 3rd edition (2008), entry Philoctetes. 

[2] Hyginus, "Fabulae" 1 14. 



[6] http://upload.wikimedia.0rg/wikipedia/commons/8/8l/Philoctetes.jpg 

Phrontis 247 


Phrontis (Greek Opovxig) was one of four (or five) sons of Phrixus and Chalciope. He was also a grandson of King 
Aeetes of Colchis . 

Phrontis and his brothers were raised in Colchis, but after their father died, he and his brothers set out to avenge their 
father's ill treatment in the hands of king Athamas of Orchomenus and were stranded on the Island of Ares the War 
God in the Black Sea until they were rescued from the island by the Jason and the Argonauts. Once Jason received 
discovered that Phrontis and his brothers were grandsons of King Aeetes of Colchis, Jason convinced Phrontis and 
his brothers to return with him to Colchis and help him to obtain the Golden Fleece. Jason also questioned Phrontis 
and his brothers on the layout and security of the land. After the Fleece was retrieved from Colchis, Phrontis and his 
brothers returned with the Argo's crew to Greece. His brothers were Cytissorus, Argus and Melas, and, according to 
some accounts, Presbon was another one of his brothers. 

Another story of Phrontis transpired many years after the Argonautical travels and involves Phrontis' brother Melas 
as a traveling merchant who was apprehended and kept in captivity by the oppressive king Talycrates (TaXDKpcmn;) 
of the city of Ionetrea (IovntpELa) in the Caucasus along the Cyrus River. Many other traveling merchants who 
journeyed through the Caucasus were held in captivity as well. Talycrates hoped that, by holding captive as many 
merchants from Greece and Anatolia as possible, he could economically weaken the wealthy city-states in those 
regions, giving him a great advantage of conquest. Once Phrontis received word of his brother's captivity, he felt 
compelled to travel the long journey to rescue his brother. Phrontis prayed to Zeus for help and Zeus gave Phrontis' 
horse Tempestris the wings of an eagle (Zeus' sacred animal), enabling the horse to fly over the high Caucasus 
Mountains and carry Phrontis safely to Ionetrea. After arriving at Ionetrea, Phrontis freed his brother Melas, and 
many other Greek and Anatolian traveling merchants, from prison bonds. Afterward he helped the inhabitants of 
Ionetrea to revolt and to overthrow and kill Talycrates, thus liberating the Ionetreans from his tyrannical oppression. 
An Ionetrean maiden named Lystra joined Phrontis and Melas on the journey back to Greece, and Phrontis married 
Lystra in Greece. 

Other uses 

• Phrontis was wife of Panthous and mother of Euphorbus and Hyperenor 

• Phrontis was the helmsman of Menelaus 


• Argonauts 

• Family of Phrontis 

• Argonauts: Phrontis 




[3] .html 

Poeas 248 


In Greek mythology, Poeas, or Poias was one of the Argonauts and a friend of Heracles. 

• As an Argonaut, Poeas is identified as the greatest archer of the group. When facing the giant Talos, some 
accounts say Medea drugged the bronze giant and Poeas shot an arrow to poison him in his heel. 

• More famously, Poeas had a role in the apotheosis of Heracles. When Heracles realized he was dying from 
poisonous centaur blood he demanded a funeral pyre built and lit once he stood atop it. Yet, none of his own men 
would light the pyre, a passer-by (Poeas) was asked by Heracles to light the pyre. In return for this favor Heracles 
bestowed his famed bow and poison arrows upon Poeas. Other versions had his son Philoctetes as the passer-by 
or that Poeas assigned Philoctetes the task. 

• Poeas was also the king of Meliboea in Thessaly. 


In Greek mythology, Talaus (Ancient Greek: Tcdaoq) was the king of Argos and one of the Argonauts. He was 

the son of Bias and Pero. His wife was Lysimache, daughter of Abas (also known as Eurynome, Lysippe or 

Lysianassa, daughter of Polybus ). He was the father of Adrastus, Aristomachus, Astynome, Eriphyle, Mecisteus, 

Metidice, and Pronax. 


[1] Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 2. 118 

[2] Scholia on Plato, p. 419 ed. Bekker (937, 26 ed. Baiter) 

[3] Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2. 6. 6. 

[4] Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1.9. 13 

[5] Hyginus, Fabulae, 70 

[6] Pindar, Nemean Ode 9. 16 


• Smith, Willam. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, v. 3, page 971 (http://www. 

• Barthall, Edward E. Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Greece. University of Miami Press, 1971, ISBN 
0-87024-165-6, pp. 105-106. 




In Greek mythology, Telamon (in Ancient Greek, 
TeXa^ubv), son of the king Aeacus of Aegina, and 
Endeis and brother of Peleus, accompanied Jason as one 
of his Argonauts, and was present at the hunt for the 
Calydonian Boar. In the Iliad he was the father of Greek 
heroes Ajax the Great and Teucer the Archer by 
different mothers. Some accounts mention a third son of 
his, Trambelus. He and Peleus were also close 

friends with Heracles, assisting him on his expeditions 
against the Amazons and against Troy (see below). 

In an earlier account recorded by Pherecydes, Telamon 
and Peleus were not brothers, but friends. According to 
this account, Telamon was the son of Actaeus and 
Glauce, with the latter being the daughter of Cychreus, 
king of Salamis; and Telamon married Periboea, 
daughter of King Alcathous of Megara. 


After killing their half-brother, Phocus, Telamon and 

Peleus had to leave Aegina. King Cychreus of Salamis 

welcomed Telamon and befriended him. Telamon 

married Cychreus' daughter Periboea, who gave birth to 

Ajax. Later, Cychreus gave Telamon his kingdom. In 

other versions of the myth Cychreus' daughter is named Glauce, and Periboea is Telamon's second wife, and the 

daughter of Alcathous. 

Telamon also figures in both versions of Heracles' sacking of Troy, which was ruled by King Laomedon (or Tros in 
the alternate versions). Before the Trojan War, Poseidon sent a sea monster to attack Troy. 

In the King Tros version, Heracles (along with Telamon and Oicles) agreed to kill the monster if Tros would give 
him the horses he received from Zeus as compensation for Zeus' kidnapping Ganymede, Tros' son. Tros agreed; 
Heracles succeeded and Telamon married Hesione, Tros' daughter, giving birth to Teucer by her. 

In the King Laomedon version, Laomedon planned on sacrificing his daughter Hesione to Poseidon in the hope of 
appeasing him. Heracles rescued her at the last minute and killed both the monster and Laomedon and Laomedon's 
sons, except for Ganymede, who was on Mt. Olympus, and Podarces, who saved his own life by giving Heracles a 
golden veil Hesione had made. Telamon took Hesione as a war prize and married her, and she gave birth to Teucer 
by him. Due to Ajax committing suicide at Troy, Telamon banished Teucer from Salamis for not bringing his brother 

In Apollodorus' Library, Telamon was almost killed during the siege of Troy. Telamon was the first one to break 
through the Trojan wall, which enraged Hercules as he was coveting that glory for himself. Hercules was about to 
cut him down with his sword when Telamon began to quickly assemble an altar out of nearby stones in honor of 
Hercules. Hercules was so pleased, after the sack of Troy he gave Telamon Hesione as a wife. Hesione requested that 
she be able to bring her brother Podarces with her. Hercules would not allow it unless Hesione bought Podarces as a 
slave. Hesione paid for her brother with a veil. Podarces name was then changed to Priam — which, according to 

Architectural telamon on the Wayne County, Ohio courthouse. 

Telamon 250 

Greek author Apollodorus, was derived from the Greek phrase "to buy". 

The Telamon 

The Telamon (also Song of Telamon, Telamon Song, Telamon-song) is an ancient Greek song (fl. 5th century BC) 
only found referred to by name in some ancient Greek plays and later scholia or commentaries. It is usually 
thought to be a warlike song about Telamon's son Ajax, though some other commentaries thought it to be a 
mournful song about Telamon himself. It began with: "Son of Telamon, warlike Ajax! They say you are the 


bravest of the Grecians who came to Troy, next to Achilles." 

In architecture 

In architecture telamor 

atlas, atlantes or atlantids; they are the male versions of caryatids. 

In architecture telamons are "colossal male figures used as columns.". (See image above) These are also called 


• Bibliotheca I, viii, 2 and ix 16; II, vi, 4; III, xii,6-7. 

• Apollonius Rhodius. Argonautica I, 90-94. 

• Ovid. Metamorphoses, VIII, 309. 


[1] Parthenius, Love Romances, 26 

[2] Tzetzes on Lycophron, 467 

[3] Bibliotheca iii. 12. 6 

[4] Especially Aristophanes, Lysistrata, line 1236-1238. 

[5] E.g. Anton Powell, Stephen Hodkinson, The Shadow of Sparta, Routledge, 1994, p. 39-40; and most annotated editions of Lysistrata (such as 

Jeffrey Henderson, Three Plays by Aristophanes, Routledge, 1996, p. 220). 
[6] According to Eustathius of Thessalonica (commentaries on Iliad, Roman Edition, vol. 2, p. 285), the song took this name from its first line, 

"Son of Telamon". 
[7] According to Erasmus (Adagia, 3, 4, 10: "Canere de Telamone"), the Telamon would have been a plaintive song about the father mourning 

his son. 
[8] English translation of the Telamon quoted from A Select Collection of English Songs, vol. I, 1783, "A Historical Essay on the Origin and 

Progress of National Song", subpage x (http://books. google. com/books?id=6a4iAAAAMAAJ&pg=PR15-IA9&dq="Son+off Telamon, + 

warlike+ Aj ax" & output=html) 
[9] Hersey, George, The Lost Meaning of Classical Architecture, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1998 pp. 125, 126 

Tiphys 251 


In Greek mythology, Tiphys (Ticpix;), son of Hagnias (or of Phorbas and Hyrmina), was the helmsman of the 
Argonauts. He died of a mysterious illness. After his death, Ancaeus piloted the Argo. 


[1] Semi-public narration in Apollonius' Argonautica. Berkowitz, Gary. 2004. p. 18 


The Trojan War and its Heroes 

Trojan War 

In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans (Greeks) after Paris of 
Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus king of Sparta. The war is one of the most important events in Greek 
mythology and has been narrated through many works of Greek literature, most notably through Homer's Iliad and 
the Odyssey. The Iliad relates a part of the last year of the siege of Troy; the Odyssey describes Odysseus's journey 
home. Other parts of the war are contained in a cycle of epic poems, which have survived through fragments. 
Episodes from the war provided material for Greek tragedy and other works of Greek literature, and for Roman poets 
including Virgil and Ovid. 

The war originated from a quarrel between the goddesses Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite, after Eris, the goddess of 
strife and discord, gave them a golden apple, sometimes known as the Apple of Discord, marked "for the fairest". 
Zeus sent the goddesses to Paris, who judged that Aphrodite, as the "fairest", should receive the apple. In exchange, 
Aphrodite made Helen, the most beautiful of all women and wife of Menelaus, fall in love with Paris, who took her 
to Troy. Agamemnon, king of Mycenae and the brother of Helen's husband Menelaus, led an expedition of Achaean 
troops to Troy and besieged the city for ten years because of Paris' insult. After the deaths of many heroes, including 
the Achaeans Achilles and Ajax, and the Trojans Hector and Paris, the city fell to the ruse of the Trojan Horse. The 
Achaeans slaughtered the Trojans (except for some of the women and children whom they kept or sold as slaves) and 
desecrated the temples, thus earning the gods' wrath. Few of the Achaeans returned safely to their homes and many 
founded colonies in distant shores. The Romans later traced their origin to Aeneas, one of the Trojans, who was said 
to have led the surviving Trojans to modern day Italy. 

The ancient Greeks thought that the Trojan War was a historical event that had taken place in the 13th or 12th 
century BC, and believed that Troy was located in modern-day Turkey near the Dardanelles. By modern times, both 
the war and the city were widely believed to be non-historical. In 1868, however, the German archaeologist Heinrich 
Schliemann met Frank Calvert, who convinced Schliemann that Troy was at Hissarlik and Schliemann took over 
Calvert's excavations on property belonging to Calvert ; this claim is now accepted by most scholars. Whether 
there is any historical reality behind the Trojan War is an open question. Many scholars believe that there is a 
historical core to the tale, though this may simply mean that the Homeric stories are a fusion of various tales of 
sieges and expeditions by Mycenaean Greeks during the Bronze Age. Those who believe that the stories of the 
Trojan War are derived from a specific historical conflict usually date it to the 12th or 11th centuries BC, often 
preferring the dates given by Eratosthenes, 1194—1184 BC, which roughly corresponds with archaeological evidence 

of a catastrophic burning of Troy Vila. 

Trojan War 



The events of the Trojan War are found in many works of Greek 
literature and depicted in numerous works of Greek art. There is no 
single, authoritative text which tells the entire events of the war. 
Instead, the story is assembled from a variety of sources, some of 
which report contradictory versions of the events. The most important 
literary sources are the two epic poems traditionally credited to Homer, 
the Iliad and the Odyssey, composed sometime between the 9th and 6th 
centuries BC. Each poem narrates only a part of the war. The Iliad 
covers a short period in the last year of the siege of Troy, while the 
Odyssey concerns Odysseus's return to his home island of Ithaca, 
following the sack of Troy. 

The Burning of Troy (1759/62), oil painting by 
Johann Georg Trautmann 

Other parts of the Trojan War were told in the poems of the Epic 

Cycle, also known as the Cyclic Epics: the Cypria, Aethiopis, Little Iliad, Iliou Persis, Nostoi, and Telegony. Though 
these poems survive only in fragments, their content is known from a summary included in Proclus' Chrestomathy. 
The authorship of the Cyclic Epics is uncertain. It is generally thought that the poems were written down in the 7th 
and 6th century BC, after the composition of the Homeric poems, though it is widely believed that they were based 
on earlier traditions. Both the Homeric epics and the Epic Cycle take origin from oral tradition. Even after the 
composition of the Iliad, Odyssey, and the Cyclic Epics, the myths of the Trojan War were passed on orally, in many 
genres of poetry and through non-poetic storytelling. Events and details of the story that are only found in later 
authors may have been passed on through oral tradition and could be as old as the Homeric poems. Visual art, such 
as vase-painting, was another medium in which myths of the Trojan War circulated 


In later ages playwrights, historians, and other intellectuals would create works inspired by the Trojan War. The 
three great tragedians of Athens, Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, wrote many dramas that portray episodes 
from the Trojan War. Among Roman writers the most important is the 1st century BC poet Virgil. In Book 2 of the 
Aeneid, Aeneas narrates the sack of Troy; this section of the poem is thought to rely on material from the Cyclic Epic 
Iliou Persis. 


The following summary of the Trojan War follows the order of events as given in Proclus' summary, along with the 
Iliad, Odyssey, and Aeneid, supplemented with details drawn from other authors. 

Origins of the war 

The plan of Zeus 

According to Greek mythology, Zeus had become king of the gods by overthrowing his father Cronus; Cronus in 
turn had overthrown his father Uranus. Zeus was not faithful to his wife and sister Hera, and had many relationships 
from which many children were born. Since Zeus believed that there were too many people populating the earth, he 
envisioned Momus or Themis, who was to use the Trojan War as a means to depopulate the Earth, especially of 
his demigod descendants. 

Trojan War 


The Judgement of Paris 


Zeus came to learn from either Themis or Prometheus, after 
Heracles had released him from Caucasus, that, like his father 
Cronus, one of his sons would overthrow him. Another prophecy stated 
that a son of the sea-nymph Thetis, with whom Zeus fell in love after 
gazing upon her in the oceans off the Greek coast, would become 
greater than his father. Possibly for one or both of these reasons, 
Thetis was betrothed to an elderly human king, Peleus son of Aiakos, 

either upon Zeus' orders 
had raised her. 


or because she wished to please Hera, who 

The Judgment of Paris (1904) by Enrique 

All of the gods were invited to Peleus and Thetis' wedding and brought 

[1 81 

many gifts, except Eris (the goddess of discord), who was stopped 

at the door by Hermes, on Zeus' order. Insulted, she threw from the door a gift of her own: a golden apple (to 

, , , [21] 

u/nXov TT)^ epi,8o<;) on which were inscribed the word KaX.Xi.aTT] Kallistei ("To the fairest"). The apple was 
claimed by Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. They quarreled bitterly over it, and none of the other gods would venture 
an opinion favoring one, for fear of earning the enmity of the other two. Eventually, Zeus ordered Hermes to lead the 
three goddesses to Paris, a prince of Troy, who, unaware of his ancestry, was being raised as a shepherd in Mount 

[221 [231 

Ida, because of a prophecy that he would be the downfall of Troy. After bathing in the spring of Ida, the 
goddesses appeared to him naked, either for the sake of winning or at Paris' request. Paris was unable to decide 
between them, so the goddesses resorted to bribes. Athena offered Paris wisdom, skill in battle, and the abilities of 
the greatest warriors; Hera offered him political power and control of all of Asia; and Aphrodite offered him the love 
of the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen of Sparta. Paris awarded the apple to Aphrodite, and, after several 
adventures, returned to Troy, where he was recognized by his royal family. 

Peleus and Thetis bore a son, whom they named Achilles. It was 

foretold that he would either die of old age after an uneventful life, or 

die young in a battlefield and gain immortality through poetry. 

Furthermore, when Achilles was nine years old, Calchas had 

prophesied that Troy could not again fall without his help. A 

number of sources credit Thetis with attempting to make Achilles 

immortal when he was an infant. Some of these state that she held him 

over fire every night to burn away his mortal parts and rubbed him 

with ambrosia during the day, but Peleus discovered her actions and 

stopped her. According to some versions of this story, Thetis had 


already destroyed several sons in this manner, and Peleus' action therefore saved his son's life. Other sources state 
that Thetis bathed Achilles in the River Styx, the river that runs to the under world, making him invulnerable 


wherever he had touched the water. Because she had held him by the heel, it was not immersed during the bathing 
and thus the heel remained mortal and vulnerable to injury (hence the expression "Achilles heel" for an isolated 
weakness). He grew up to be the greatest of all mortal warriors. After Calchas' prophesy, Thetis hid Achilles in 
Skyros at the court of king Lycomedes, where he was disguised as a girl. At a crucial point in the war, she assists 
her son by providing weapons divinely forged by Hephaestus (see below). 

Thetis gives her son Achilles weapons forged by 

Hephaestus (detail of Attic black-figure hydria, 

575-550 BC) 

Trojan War 


Elopement of Paris and Helen 

The most beautiful woman in the world was Helen, one of the 
daughters of Tyndareus, King of Sparta. Her mother was Leda, who 
had been either raped or seduced by Zeus in the form of a swan. 
Accounts differ over which of Leda's four children, two pairs of twins, 

were fathered by Zeus and which by Tyndareus. However, Helen is 

usually credited as Zeus' daughter, and sometimes Nemesis is 

credited as her mother. Helen had scores of suitors, and her father 

was unwilling to choose one for fear the others would retaliate 


The Abduction of Helen (1530—39) by Francesco 
Primaticcio, with Aphrodite directing 

Finally, one of the suitors, Odysseus of Ithaca, proposed a plan to solve 

the dilemma. In exchange for Tyndareus' support of his own suit 

towards Penelope, he suggested that Tyndareus require all of 

Helen's suitors to promise that they would defend the marriage of Helen, regardless of whom he chose. The suitors 

duly swore the required oath on the severed pieces of a horse, although not without a certain amount of 



Tyndareus chose Menelaus. Menelaus was a political choice on her father's part. He had wealth and power. He had 

humbly not petitioned for her himself, but instead sent his brother Agamemnon on his behalf. He had promised 

Aphrodite a hecatomb, a sacrifice of 100 oxen, if he won Helen, but forgot about it and earned her wrath. 

Menelaus inherited Tyndareus' throne of Sparta with Helen as his queen when her brothers, Castor and Pollux, 

became gods, and when Agamemnon married Helen's sister Clytemnestra and took back the throne of 


Paris, under the guise of a supposed diplomatic mission, went to Sparta to get Helen and bring her back to Troy. 
Before Helen could look up, to see him enter the palace, she was shot with an arrow from Eros, otherwise known as 
Cupid, and fell in love with Paris when she saw him, as promised by Aphrodite. Menelaus had left for Crete to 
bury his uncle, Crateus. Hera, still jealous over his judgement, sent a storm. The storm caused the lovers to 
land in Egypt, where the gods replaced Helen with a likeness of her made of clouds, Nephele. The myth of Helen 
being switched is attributed to the 6th century BC Sicilian poet Stesichorus. For Homer the true Helen was in Troy. 
The ship then landed in Sidon before reaching Troy. Paris, fearful of getting caught, spent some time there and then 
sailed to Troy. 

Trojan War 


Paris' abduction of Helen had several 
precedents. Io was taken from 
Mycenae, Europa was taken from 
Phoenicia, Jason took Medea from 
Colchis, and the Trojan princess 
Hesione had been taken by Heracles, 

who gave her to Telamon of 

Salamis. According to Herodotus, 

Paris was emboldened by these 

examples to steal himself a wife from 

Greece, and expected no retribution, 

since there had been none in the other 


The gathering of Achaean 
forces and the first expedition 

According to Homer, Menelaus and his 
ally, Odysseus, traveled to Troy, where 
they unsuccessfully sought to recover Helen by diplomatic means 

Pontus Euxinus 

Map of Homeric Greece 


Menelaus then asked Agamemnon to uphold his oath. He agreed and sent emissaries to all the Achaean kings and 
princes to call them to observe their oaths and retrieve Helen. 

Odysseus and Achilles 

Since Menelaus's wedding, Odysseus had married Penelope and fathered a son, Telemachus. In order to avoid the 
war, he feigned madness and sowed his fields with salt. Palamedes outwitted him by placing his infant son in front of 
the plough's path, and Odysseus turned aside, unwilling to kill his son, so revealing his sanity and forcing him to join 

the war. 


According to Homer, however, Odysseus supported the military adventure from the beginning, and traveled the 
region with Pylos' king, Nestor, to recruit forces. 

At Skyros, Achilles had an affair with the king's daughter Deidamia, resulting in a child, Neoptolemus. Odysseus, 

Telamonian Ajax, and Achilles' tutor Phoenix went to retrieve Achilles. Achilles' mother disguised him as a woman 

so that he would not have to go to war, but, according to one story, they blew a horn, and Achilles revealed himself 

by seizing a spear to fight intruders, rather than fleeing. According to another story, they disguised themselves as 

merchants bearing trinkets and weaponry, and Achilles was marked out from the other women for admiring 

weaponry instead of clothes and jewelry 


Pausanias said that, according to Homer, Achilles did not hide in Skyros, but rather conquered the island, as part of 
the Trojan War 


Trojan War 


First gathering at Aulis 

The Achean forces first gathered at Aulis. All the suitors sent their 

forces except King Cinyras of Cyprus. Though he sent breastplates to 

Agamemnon and promised to send 50 ships, he sent only one real ship, 

led by the son of Mygdalion, and 49 ships made of clay. Idomeneus 

was willing to lead the Cretan contingent in Mycenae's war against 

Troy, but only as a co-commander, which he was granted. The last 

commander to arrive was Achilles, who was then 15 years old. 

Following a sacrifice to Apollo, a snake slithered from the altar to a 
sparrow's nest in a plane tree nearby. It ate the mother and her nine 
babies, then was turned to stone. Calchas interpreted this as a sign that Troy would fall in the tenth year of the 



The Discovery^ of Achilles among the Daughters 
of Lycomedes (1664) by Jan de Bray 


When the Achaeans left for the war, they did not know the way, and accidentally landed in Mysia, ruled by King 
Telephus, son of Heracles, who had led a contingent of Arcadians to settle there. In the battle, Achilles wounded 

T571 T5R1 

Telephus, who had killed Thersander. Because the wound would not heal, Telephus asked an oracle, "What 
will happen to the wound?". The oracle responded, "he that wounded shall heal". The Achaean fleet then set sail and 
was scattered by a storm. Achilles landed in Scyros and married Deidamia. A new gathering was set again in 




Telephus went to Aulis, and either pretended to be a beggar, asking Agamemnon to help heal his wound, or 
kidnapped Orestes and held him for ransom, demanding the wound be healed. Achilles refused, claiming to have 
no medical knowledge. Odysseus reasoned that the spear that had inflicted the wound must be able to heal it. Pieces 
of the spear were scraped off onto the wound, and Telephus was healed. Telephus then showed the Achaeans the 
route to Troy. 

Some scholars have regarded the expedition against Telephus and its resolution as a derivative reworking of 
elements from the main story of the Trojan War, but it has also been seen as fitting the story -pattern of the 
"preliminary adventure" that anticipates events and themes from the main narrative, and therefore as likely to be 
"early and integral' 


The second gathering 


Eight years after the storm had scattered them, the fleet of more 
than a thousand ships was gathered again. But when they had all 
reached Aulis, the winds ceased. The prophet Calchas stated that the 
goddess Artemis was punishing Agamemnon for killing either a sacred 
deer or a deer in a sacred grove, and boasting that he was a better 


hunter than she. The only way to appease Artemis, he said, was to 
sacrifice Iphigenia, who was either the daughter of Agamemnon and 
Clytemnestra, or of Helen and Theseus entrusted to Clytemnestra 
when Helen married Menelaus. Agamemnon refused, and the other 
commanders threatened to make Palamedes commander of the 
expedition. According to some versions, Agamemnon relented, but 
others claim that he sacrificed a deer in her place, or that at the last 



Ch: ■:■: 









Mount ieta 



Map of the Troad (Troas) 

Trojan War 



moment, Artemis took pity on the girl, and took her to be a maiden in one of her temples, substituting a lamb. 
Hesiod says that Iphigenia became the goddess Hecate. 

The Achaean forces are described in detail in the Catalogue of Ships, in the second book of the Iliad. They consisted 
of 28 contingents from mainland Greece, the Peloponnese, the Dodecanese islands, Crete, and Ithaca, comprising 
1178 pentekontoroi, ships with 50 rowers. Thucydides says that according to tradition there were about 1200 
ships, and that the Boeotian ships had 120 men, while Philoctetes' ships only had the fifty rowers, these probably 
being maximum and minimum. These numbers would mean a total force of 70,000 to 130,000 men. Another 
catalogue of ships is given by the Bibliotheca that differs somewhat but agrees in numbers. Some scholars have 
claimed that Homer's catalogue is an original Bronze Age document, possibly the Achaean commander's order of 
operations. Others believe it was a fabrication of Homer. 

The second book of the Iliad also lists the Trojan allies, consisting of the Trojans themselves, led by Hector, and 
various allies listed as Dardanians led by Aeneas, Zeleians, Adrasteians, Percotians, Pelasgians, Thracians, Ciconian 
spearmen, Paionian archers, Halizones, Mysians, Phrygians, Maeonians, Miletians, Lycians led by Sarpedon and 
Carians. Nothing is said of the Trojan language; the Carians are specifically said to be barbarian-speaking, and the 

allied contingents are said to have spoken multiple languages, requiring orders to be translated by their individual 

commanders. It should be noted, however, that the Trojans and Achaeans in the Iliad share the same religion, 

same culture and the enemy heroes speak to each other in the same language, though this could be dramatic effect. 

Philoctetes on Lemnos, with 
Heracles' bow and quiver (Attic 
red-figure lekythos, 420 BCE) 

Nine years of war 


Philoctetes was Heracles' friend, and because he lit Heracles's funeral pyre when 

no one else would, he received Heracles' bow and arrows. He sailed with 

seven ships full of men to the Trojan War, where he was planning on fighting for 


the Achaeans. They stopped either at Chryse Island for supplies, or in 


Tenedos, along with the rest of the fleet. Philoctetes was then bitten by a 
snake. The wound festered and had a foul smell; on Odysseus's advice, the 


Atreidae ordered Philoctetes to stay on Lemnos. Medon took control of 
Philoctetes's men. While landing on Tenedos, Achilles killed king Tenes, son of 
Apollo, despite a warning by his mother that if he did so he would be killed 
himself by Apollo. From Tenedos, Agamemnon sent an embassy to Priam, 

composed of Menelaus, Odysseus, and Palamedes, asking for Helen's return. The embassy was refused 


Philoctetes stayed on Lemnos for ten years, which was a deserted island according to Sophocles' tragedy Philoctetes, 

but according to earlier tradition was populated by Minyans 



Calchas had prophesied that the first Achean to walk on land after stepping off a ship would be the first to die 


Thus even the leading Greeks hesitated to land. Finally, Protesilaus, leader of the Phylaceans, landed first 
Odysseus had tricked him, in throwing his own shield down to land on, so that while he was first to leap off his ship, 
he was not the first to land on Trojan soil. Hector killed Protesilaus in single combat, though the Trojans conceded 
the beach. In the second wave of attacks, Achilles killed Cycnus, son of Poseidon. The Trojans then fled to the safety 


of the walls of their city. Protesilaus had killed many Trojans but was killed by Hector in most versions of the 

T871 - T831 

story, though others list Aeneas, Achates, or Ephorbus as his slayer. The Achaeans buried him as a god on the 
Thracian peninsula, across the Troad. After Protesilaus' death, his brother, Podarces, took command of his troops. 

Trojan War 


Achilles' campaigns 

The Achaeans besieged Troy for nine years. This part of the war is the least 
developed among surviving sources, which prefer to talk about events in the last 
year of the war. After the initial landing the army was gathered in its entirety 
again only in the tenth year. Thucydides deduces that this was due to lack of 
money. They raided the Trojan allies and spent time farming the Thracian 

roc] _ 

peninsula. Troy was never completely besieged, thus it maintained 

communications with the interior of Asia Minor. Reinforcements continued to 
come until the very end. The Acheans controlled only the entrance to the 
Dardanelles, and Troy and her allies controlled the shortest point at Abydos and 

Sestus and communicated with allies in Europe 


Briseis and Achilles in a 

17th-century book illustration by 

Wenzel Hollar 

Achilles and Ajax were the most active of the Achaeans, leading separate armies 
to raid lands of Trojan allies. According to Homer, Achilles conquered 11 cities 


and 12 islands. According to Apollodorus, he raided the land of Aeneas in the 

_ r88i 

Troad region and stole his cattle. He also captured Lyrnassus, Pedasus, and many of the neighbouring cities, and 

killed Troilus, son of Priam, who was still a youth; it was said that if he reached 20 years of age, Troy would not fall. 

According to Apollodorus, 

He also took Lesbos and Phocaea, then Colophon, and Smyrna, and Clazomenae, and Cyme; and afterwards 
Aegialus and Tenos, the so-called Hundred Cities; then, in order, Adramytium and Side; then Endium, and 
Linaeum, and Colone. He took also Hypoplacian Thebes and Lyrnessus, and further Antandrus, and many 

other cities. 



Kakrides comments that the list is wrong in that it extends too far into the south. Other sources talk of Achilles 

[91] [92] 

taking Pedasus, Monenia, Mythemna (in Lesbos), and Peisidice. 

Among the loot from these cities was Briseis, from Lyrnessus, who was awarded to him, and Chryseis, from 
Hypoplacian Thebes, who was awarded to Agamemnon. Achilles captured Lycaon, son of Priam, while he 


was cutting branches in his father's orchards. Patroclus sold him as a slave in Lemnos, where he was bought by 

Eetion of Imbros and brought back to Troy. Only 12 days later Achilles slew him, after the death of Patroclus. 

Trojan War 


Ajax and a game of petteia 

Ajax son of Telamon laid waste the Thracian peninsula of which Polymestor, a 

son-in-law of Priam, was king. Polymestor surrendered Polydorus, one of Priam's 

children, of whom he had custody. He then attacked the town of the Phrygian 

king Teleutas, killed him in single combat and carried off his daughter 

Tecmessa. Ajax also hunted the Trojan flocks, both on Mount Ida and in the 


Numerous paintings on pottery have suggested a tale not mentioned in the 
literary traditions. At some point in the war Achilles and Ajax were playing a 
board game (petteia). They were absorbed in the game and oblivious to the 

surrounding battle. The Trojans attacked and reached the heroes, who were 

only saved by an intervention of Athena 

The death of Palamedes 


Odysseus was sent to Thrace to return with grain, but came back empty-handed. 
When scorned by Palamedes, Odysseus challenged him to do better. Palamedes 

Ajax and Achilles playing a board 

game (Black-figure Attic lekythos, . . j , j vu u- i j c • [100] 

55 J set out and returned with a shipload of grain. 

ca. 500 BC) 

Odysseus had never forgiven Palamedes for threatening the life of his son. In 
revenge, Odysseus conceived a plot where an incriminating letter was forged, from Priam to Palamedes, and 
gold was planted in Palamedes' quarters. The letter and gold were "discovered", and Agamemnon had Palamedes 
stoned to death for treason. 

However, Pausanias, quoting the Cypria, says that Odysseus and Diomedes drowned Palamedes, while he was 
fishing, and Dictys says that Odysseus and Diomedes lured Palamedes into a well, which they said contained gold, 

then stoned him to death 


Palamedes' father Nauplius sailed to the Troad and asked for justice, but was refused. In revenge, Nauplius traveled 
among the Achaean kingdoms and told the wives of the kings that they were bringing Trojan concubines to dethrone 
them. Many of the Greek wives were persuaded to betray their husbands, most significantly Agamemnon's wife, 
Clytemnestra, who was seduced by Aegisthus, son of Thyestes. 


Near the end of the ninth year since the landing, the Achaean army, tired from the fighting and from the lack of 
supplies, mutinied against their leaders and demanded to return to their homes. According to the Cypria, Achilles 


forced the army to stay. According to Apollodorus, Agamemnon brought the Wine Growers, daughters of Anius, 
son of Apollo, who had the gift of producing by touch wine, wheat, and oil from the earth, in order to relieve the 
supply problem of the army 


Trojan War 


The Iliad 

Chryses, a priest of Apollo and father of Chryseis, came to 
Agamemnon to ask for the return of his daughter. Agamemnon 
refused, and insulted Chryses, who prayed to Apollo to avenge his 
ill-treatment. Enraged, Apollo afflicted the Achaean army with plague. 
Agamemnon was forced to return Chryseis to end the plague, and took 
Achilles' concubine Briseis as his own. Enraged at the dishonour 
Agamemnon had inflicted upon him, Achilles decided he would no 
longer fight. He asked his mother, Thetis, to intercede with Zeus, who 
agreed to give the Trojans success in the absence of Achilles, the best 
warrior of the Achaeans. 

Chryses pleading with Agamemnon for his 
daughter (360-350 BC) 

After the withdrawal of Achilles, the Achaeans were initially 
successful. Both armies gathered in full for the first time since the 

landing. Menelaus and Paris fought a duel, which ended when Aphrodite snatched the beaten Paris from the field. 
With the truce broken, the armies began fighting again. Diomedes won great renown amongst the Achaeans, killing 
the Trojan hero Pandaros and nearly killing Aeneas, who was only saved by his mother, Aphrodite. With the 
assistance of Athena, Diomedes then wounded the gods Aphrodite and Ares. During the next days, however, the 
Trojans drove the Achaeans back to their camp and were stopped at the Achaean wall by Poseidon. The next day, 
though, with Zeus' help, the Trojans broke into the Achaean camp and were on the verge of setting fire to the 
Achaean ships. An earlier appeal to Achilles to return was rejected, but after Hector burned Protesilaus' ship, he 
allowed his close friend and relative Patroclus to go into battle wearing Achilles' armour and lead his army. 
Patroclus drove the Trojans all the way back to the walls of Troy, and was only prevented from storming the city by 
the intervention of Apollo. Patroclus was then killed by Hector, who took Achilles' armour from the body of 

Achilles, maddened with grief, swore to kill Hector in revenge. He was 

reconciled with Agamemnon and received Briseis back, untouched by 

Agamemnon. He received a new set of arms, forged by the god 

Hephaestus, and returned to the battlefield. He slaughtered many 

Trojans, and nearly killed Aeneas, who was saved by Poseidon. 

Achilles fought with the river god Scamander, and a battle of the gods 

followed. The Trojan army returned to the city, except for Hector, who 

remained outside the walls because he was tricked by Athena. Achilles 

killed Hector, and afterwards he dragged Hector's body from his 

chariot and refused to return the body to the Trojans for burial. The Achaeans then conducted funeral games for 

Patroclus. Afterwards, Priam came to Achilles' tent, guided by Hermes, and asked Achilles to return Hector's body. 

The armies made a temporary truce to allow the burial of the dead. The Iliad ends with the funeral of Hector. 

Triumphant Achilles dragging Hector's body 

around Troy, from a panoramic fresco of the 


Trojan War 


After the Iliad 

Pent hesilea and the death of Achilles 

Shortly after the burial of Hector, Penthesilea, queen of the Amazons, 
arrived with her warriors. Penthesilea, daughter of Otrere and 

Ares, had accidentally killed her sister Hippolyte. She was purified 
from this action by Priam, and in exchange she fought for him and 
killed many, including Machaon (according to Pausanias, Machaon 
was killed by Eurypylus), and according to another version, 

Achilles himself, who was resurrected at the request of Thetis 


Penthesilia was then killed by Achilles who fell in love with her 
beauty after her death. Thersites, a simple soldier and the ugliest 
Achaean, taunted Achilles over his love and gouged out 

Penthesilea's eyes 


Achilles slew Thersites, and after a dispute 

sailed to Lesbos, where he was purified for his murder by Odysseus 
after sacrificing to Apollo, Artemis, and Leto 


Achilles killing the Amazon Penthesilea 


While they were away, Memnon of Ethiopia, son of Tithonus and Eos, came with his host to help his stepbrother 
Priam. He did not come directly from Ethiopia, but either from Susa in Persia, conquering all the peoples in 
between, or from the Caucasus, leading an army of Ethiopians and Indians. Like Achilles, he wore armour 
made by Hephaestus. In the ensuing battle, Memnon killed Antilochus, who took one of Memnon's blows to 
save his father Nestor. Achilles and Memnon then fought. Zeus weighed the fate of the two heroes; the weight 
containing that of Memnon sank, and he was slain by Achilles. Achilles chased the Trojans to their city, 

which he entered. The gods, seeing that he had killed too many of their children, decided that it was his time to die. 


He was killed after Paris shot a poisoned arrow that was guided by Apollo. In another version he was 

killed by a knife to the back (or heel) by Paris, while marrying Polyxena, daughter of Priam, in the temple of 


Thymbraean Apollo, the site where he had earlier killed Troilus. Both versions conspicuously deny the killer any 
sort of valour, saying Achilles remained undefeated on the battlefield. His bones were mingled with those of 


Patroclus, and funeral games were held. Like Ajax, he is represented as living after his death in the island of 
Leuke, at the mouth of the Danube River, where he is married to Helen. 

The Judgment of Arms 

A great battle raged around the dead Achilles. Ajax held back the 


Trojans, while Odysseus carried the body away. When Achilles' 
armour was offered to the smartest warrior, the two that had saved his 
body came forward as competitors. Agamemnon, unwilling to 
undertake the invidious duty of deciding between the two competitors, 
referred the dispute to the decision of the Trojan prisoners, inquiring of 


them which of the two heroes had done most harm to the Trojans. 


Alternatively, the Trojans and Pallas Athena were the judges 

in that, following Nestor's advice, spies were sent to the walls to 

overhear what was said. A girl said that Ajax was braver: 

For Aias took up and carried out of the strife the hero, Peleus' 

son: this great Odysseus cared not to do. 

To this another replied by Athena's contrivance: 

Why, what is this you say? A thing against reason and untrue! 

The suicide of Ajax (from a calyx-krater, 
400-350 BC, Vulci) 

Trojan War 


Even a woman could carry a load once a man had put it on her 

shoulder; but she could not fight. For she would fail with fear 

if she should fight. (Scholiast on Aristophanes, Knights 1056 and Aristophanes ib) 

According to Pindar, the decision was made by secret ballot among the Acheans. In all story versions, the arms 
were awarded to Odysseus. Driven mad with grief, Ajax desired to kill his comrades, but Athena caused him to 

r 1321 

mistake the cattle and their herdsmen for the Achean warriors. In his frenzy he scourged two rams, believing 
them to be Agamemnon and Menelaus. " In the morning, he came to his senses and killed himself by jumping on 
the sword that had been given to him by Hector, so that it pierced his armpit, his only vulnerable part. " According 
to an older tradition, he was killed by the Trojans who, seeing he was invulnerable, attacked him with clay until he 
was covered by it and could no longer move, thus dying of starvation. 

The prophecies 


After the tenth year, it was prophesied that Troy could not fall without Heracles' bow, which was with 

Philoctetes in Lemnos. Odysseus and Diomedes retrieved Philoctetes, whose wound had healed. Philoctetes 
then shot and killed Paris. 

According to Apollodorus, Paris' brothers Helenus and Deiphobus vied over the hand of Helen. Deiphobus prevailed, 

and Helenus abandoned Troy for Mt. Ida. Calchas said that Helenus knew the prophecies concerning the fall of Troy, 

n 30i n 3ri 
so Odysseus waylaid Helenus. Under coercion, Helenus told the Acheans that they would win if they 

r i 39i 

retrieved Pelops' bones, persuaded Achilles' son Neoptolemus to fight for them, and stole the Trojan Palladium. 

The Greeks retrieved Pelop's bones, and sent Odysseus to retrieve Neoptolemus, who was hiding from the war in 

King Lycomedes's court in Scyros. Odysseus gave him his father's arms. Eurypylus, son of Telephus, 

T1421 [1431 

leading, according to Homer, a large force of Keteioi, or Hittites or Mysians according to Apollodorus, 

arrived to aid the Trojans. He killed Machaon and Peneleos, but was slain by Neoptolemus. 

Disguised as a beggar, Odysseus went to spy inside Troy, but was recognized by Helen. Homesick, 
plotted with Odysseus. Later, with Helen's help, Odysseus and Diomedes stole the Palladium. 





Trojan Horse 

The end of the war came with one final plan. Odysseus devised a new 
ruse — a giant hollow wooden horse, an animal that was sacred to the 
Trojans. It was built by Epeius and guided by Athena, from the 
wood of a cornel tree grove sacred to Apollo, with the inscription: 

The Greeks dedicate this thank-offering to Athena for their 
return home. 

The hollow horse was filled with soldiers led by Odysseus. The 
rest of the army burned the camp and sailed for Tenedos. 

When the Trojans discovered that the Greeks were gone, believing the 
war was over, they "joyfully dragged the horse inside the city", 

while they debated what to do with it. Some thought they ought to hurl it down from the rocks, others thought they 

should burn it, while others said they ought to dedicate it to Athena. 

Both Cassandra and Laocoon warned against keeping the horse. While Cassandra had been given the gift of 
prophecy by Apollo, she was also cursed by Apollo never to be believed. Serpents then came out of the sea and 
devoured either Laocoon and one of his two sons, Laocoon and both his sons, or only his sons, a portent 
which so alarmed the followers of Aeneas that they withdrew to Ida. The Trojans decided to keep the horse and 
turned to a night of mad revelry and celebration. Sinon, an Achaean spy, signaled the fleet stationed at Tenedos 
when "it was midnight and the clear moon was rising" and the soldiers from inside the horse emerged and killed 

The earliest known depiction of the Trojan Horse, 
from the Mykonos vase ca. 670 BC 

Trojan War 


the guards 


The Sack of Troy 

The Acheans entered the city and killed the sleeping population. A 
great massacre followed which continued into the day. 

Blood ran in torrents, drenched was all the earth, 

As Trojans and their alien helpers died. 

Here were men lying quelled by bitter death 

All up and down the city in their blood. 

The Trojans, fuelled with desperation, fought back fiercely, despite 
being disorganized and leaderless. With the fighting at its height, some 
donned fallen enemies' attire and launched surprise counterattacks in 
the chaotic street fighting. Other defenders hurled down roof tiles and 
anything else heavy down on the rampaging attackers. The outlook was 
grim though, and eventually the remaining defenders were destroyed 
along with the whole city. 

Neoptolemus, son of Achilles, kills King Priam 

(detail of Attic black-figure amphora, 520—510 


Neoptolemus killed Priam, who had taken refuge at the altar of Zeus of 

the Courtyard. Menelaus killed Deiphobus, Helen's husband after Paris' death, and also intended to kill 

Helen, but, overcome by her beauty, threw down his sword and took her to the ships. 

Ajax the Lesser raped Cassandra on Athena's altar while she was clinging to her statue. Because of Ajax's impiety, 
the Acheaens, urged by Odysseus, wanted to stone him to death, but he fled to Athena's altar, and was 


Antenor, who had given hospitality to Menelaus and Odysseus when they asked for the return of Helen, and who had 
advocated so, was spared, along with his family. Aeneas took his father on his back and fled, and, according to 
Apollodorus, was allowed to go because of his piety 


The Greeks then burned the city and divided the spoils. Cassandra was awarded to Agamemnon. Neoptolemus got 
Andromache, wife of Hector, and Odysseus was given Hecuba, Priam's wife. 

The Achaeans threw Hector's infant son Astyanax down from the walls of Troy, either out of cruelty and 
hate or to end the royal line, and the possibility of a son's revenge. They (by usual tradition Neoptolemus) 
also sacrificed the Trojan princess Polyxena on the grave of Achilles as demanded by his ghost, either as part of his 
spoil or because she had betrayed him. ' 

Aethra, Theseus' mother, and one of Helen's handmaids, was rescued by her grandsons, Demophon and 


The returns 

The gods were very angry over the destruction of their temples and other sacrilegious acts by the Acheans, and 
decided that most would not return home. A storm fell on the returning fleet off Tenos island. Additionally, 
Nauplius, in revenge for the murder of his son Palamedes, set up false lights in Cape Caphereus (also known today 

as Cavo D'Oro, in Euboea) and many were shipwrecked 


Nestor, who had the best conduct in Troy and did not take part in the looting, was the only hero who had a fast 
and safe return. Those of his army that survived the war also reached home with him safely, but later left and 
colonised Metapontium in Southern Italy. 

Trojan War 


Poseidon smites Ajax the Lesser, by Bonaventura 
Genelli (1798-1868) 

Ajax the Lesser, who had endured more than the others the wrath of 
the Gods, never returned. His ship was wrecked by a storm sent by 
Athena, who borrowed one of Zeus' thunderbolts and tore it to 
pieces. The crew managed to land in a rock, but Poseidon struck it, 
and Ajax fell in the sea and drowned. He was buried by Thetis in 
Myconos orDelos. 

Teucer, son of Telamon and half-brother of Ajax, stood trial by his 

father for his half-brother's death. He was disowned by his father 

and wasn't allowed back on Salamis Island. He was at sea near 

Phreattys in Peiraeus. He was acquitted of responsibility but 

found guilty of negligence because he did not return his dead body or his arms. He left with his army (who took 

their wives) and founded Salamis in Cyprus. The Athenians later created a political myth that his son left his 

kingdom to Theseus' sons (and not to Megara). 

Neoptolemus, following the advice of Helenus, who accompanied him when he traveled over land, was always 
accompanied by Andromache. He met Odysseus and they buried Phoenix, Achilles' teacher, on the land of the 
Ciconians. They then conquered the land of the Molossians (Epirus) and Neoptolemus had a child by 
Andromache, Molossus, to whom he later gave the throne. Thus the kings of Epirus claimed their lineage 
from Achilles, and so did Alexander the Great, whose mother was of that royal house. Alexander the Great and 
the kings of Macedon also claimed to be descended from Heracles. Helenus founded a city in Molossia and 

inhabited it, and Neoptolemus gave him his mother Deidamia as wife. After Peleus died he succeeded Phtia's 

n 8?i 
throne. He had a feud with Orestes (son of Agamemnon) over Menelaus' daughter Hermione, and was killed 

n 8^i 
in Delphi, where he was buried. " In Roman myths, the kingdom of Phtia was taken over by Helenus, who 

married Andromache. They offered hospitality to other Trojan refugees, including Aeneas, who paid a visit there 

during his wanderings. 

Diomedes was first thrown by a storm on the coast of Lycia, where he was to be sacrificed to Ares by king Lycus, 
but Callirrhoe, the king's daughter, took pity upon him, and assisted him in escaping. He then accidentally 
landed in Attica, in Phaleron. The Athenians, unaware that they were allies, attacked them. Many were killed, and 
Demophon took the Palladium. He finally landed in Argos, where he found his wife Aegialeia committing 

adultery. In disgust, he left for Aetolia. According to later traditions, he had some adventures and founded 

n 87i 
Canusium and Argyrippa in Southern Italy. 

Philoctetes, due to a sedition, was driven from his city and emigrated to Italy, where he founded the cities of 

n 88i 
Petilia, Old Crimissa, and Chone, between Croton and Thurii. After making war on the Leucanians he 

founded there a sanctuary of Apollo the Wanderer, to whom also he dedicated his bow. 

According to Homer, Idomeneus reached his house safe and sound. Another tradition later formed. After the 
war, Idomeneus's ship hit a horrible storm. Idomeneus promised Poseidon that he would sacrifice the first living 
thing he saw when he returned home if Poseidon would save his ship and crew. The first living thing he saw was 
his son, whom Idomeneus duly sacrificed. The gods were angry at his murder of his own son and they sent a 
plague to Crete. His people sent him into exile to Calabria in Italy, and then to Colophon, in Asia Minor, 
where he died. Among the lesser Achaeans very few reached their homes. 

Trojan War 


House of Atreus 

According to the Odyssey, Menelaus's fleet was blown by storms to 
Crete and Egypt, where they were unable to sail away due to calm 
winds. Only five of his ships survived. Menelaus had to catch 
Proteus, a shape-shifting sea god, to find out what sacrifices to which 


gods he would have to make to guarantee safe passage. According 
to some stories the Helen who was taken by Paris was a fake, and the 
real Helen was in Egypt, where she was reunited with Menelaus. 
Proteus also told Menelaus that he was destined for Elysium (Heaven) 
after his death. Menelaus returned to Sparta with Helen eight years 

after he had left Troy 


The murder of Agamemnon ( 1 879 illustration 

from Alfred Church's Stories from the Greek 


Agamemnon returned home with Cassandra to Argos. His wife Clytemnestra (Helen's sister) was having an affair 
with Aegisthus, son of Thyestes, Agamemnon's cousin who had conquered Argos before Agamemnon himself retook 
it. Possibly out of vengeance for the death of Iphigenia, Clytemnestra plotted with her lover to kill Agamemnon. 
Cassandra foresaw this murder, and warned Agamemnon, but he disregarded her. He was killed, either at a feast or 
in his bath, according to different versions. Cassandra was also killed. Agamemnon's son Orestes, who had 

been away, returned and conspired with his sister Electra to avenge their father 
Aegisthus and succeeded to his father's throne. 


He killed Clytemnestra and 

The Odyssey 

Odysseus' ten year journey home to Ithaca was told in Homer's Odyssey. Odysseus and his men were blown far off 
course to lands unknown to the Achaeans; there Odysseus had many adventures, including the famous encounter 
with the Cyclops Polyphemus, and an audience with the seer Teiresias in Hades. On the island of Thrinacia, 
Odysseus' men ate the cattle sacred to the sun-god Helios. For this sacrilege Odysseus' ships were destroyed, and all 
his men perished. Odysseus had not eaten the cattle, and was allowed to live; he washed ashore on the island of 
Ogygia, and lived there with the nymph Calypso. After seven years, the gods decided to send Odysseus home; on a 
small raft, he sailed to Scheria, the home of the Phaeacians, who gave him passage to Ithaca. 

Once in his home land, Odysseus traveled disguised as an old beggar. 
He was recognised by his dog, Argos, who died in his lap. He then 
discovered that his wife, Penelope, had been faithful to him during the 
20 years he was absent, despite the countless suitors that were eating 
his food and spending his property. With the help of his son 
Telemachus, Athena, and Eumaeus, the swineherd, he killed all of 
them except Medon, who had been polite to Penelope, and Phemius, a 
local singer who had only been forced to help the suitors against 
Penelope. Penelope tested Odysseus and made sure it was him, and he 
forgave her. The next day the suitors' relatives tried to take revenge on him but they were stopped by Athena. 

Odysseus and Polyphemus by Arnold Bocklin: 

the Cyclops' curse delays the homecoming of 

Odysseus for another ten years 

The Telegony 

The Telegony picks up where the Odyssey leaves off, beginning with the burial of the dead suitors, and continues 
until the death of Odysseus. Some years after Odysseus' return, Telegonus, the son of Odysseus and Circe, came 
to Ithaca and plundered the island. Odysseus, attempting to fight off the attack, was killed by his unrecognized son. 
After Telegonus realized he had killed his father, he brought the body to his mother Circe, along with Telemachus 
and Penelope. Circe made them immortal; then Telegonus married Penelope and Telemachus married Circe. 

Trojan War 


Aeneas Flees Burning Troy (1598) by Federico 

The Aeneid 

The journey of the Trojan survivor Aeneas and his resettling of Trojan 
refugees in Italy are the subject of the Latin epic poem The Aeneid by 
Virgil. Writing during the time of Augustus, Virgil has his hero give a 
first-person account of the fall of Troy in the second of the Aeneid 's 
twelve books; the Trojan Horse, which does not appear in "The Iliad", 
became legendary from Virgil's account. 

Aeneas leads a group of survivors away from the city, among them his 
son Ascanius (also known as lulus), his trumpeter Misenus, father 
Anchises, the healer Iapyx, his faithful sidekick Achates, and Mimas as 
a guide. His wife Creusa is killed during the sack of the city. Aeneas 
also carries the Lares and Penates of Troy, which the historical 
Romans claimed to preserve as guarantees of Rome's own security. 

The Trojan survivors escape with a number of ships, seeking to establish a new homeland elsewhere. They land in 
several nearby countries that prove inhospitable, and are finally told by an oracle that they must return to the land of 
their forebears. They first try to establish themselves in Crete, where Dardanus had once settled, but find it ravaged 
by the same plague that had driven Idomeneus away. They find the colony led by Helenus and Andromache, but 
decline to remain. After seven years they arrive in Carthage, where Aeneas has an affair with Queen Dido. (Since 
according to tradition Carthage was founded in 814 BC, the arrival of Trojan refugees a few hundred years earlier 
exposes chronological difficulties within the mythic tradition.) Eventually the gods order Aeneas to continue 
onward, and he and his people arrive at the mouth of the Tiber River in Italy. Dido commits suicide, and Aeneas's 
betrayal of her was regarded as an element in the long enmity between Rome and Carthage that expressed itself in 
the Punic Wars and led to Roman hegemony. 

At Cumae, the Sibyl leads Aeneas on an archetypal descent to the underworld, where the shade of his dead father 
serves as a guide; this book of the Aeneid directly influenced Dante, who has Virgil act as his narrator's guide. 
Aeneas is given a vision of the future majesty of Rome, which it was his duty to found, and returns to the world of 
the living. He negotiates a settlement with the local king, Latinus, and was wed to his daughter, Lavinia. This 
triggered a war with other local tribes, which culminated in the founding of the settlement of Alba Longa, ruled by 
Aeneas and Lavinia's son Silvius. Roman myth attempted to reconcile two different founding myths: three hundred 
years later, in the more famous tradition, Romulus and Remus founded Rome. The Trojan origins of Rome became 
particularly important in the propaganda of Julius Caesar, whose family claimed descent from Venus through 
Aeneas's son lulus (hence the Latin gens name Iulius), and during the reign of Augustus; see for instance the Tabulae 
Iliacae and the "Troy Game" presented frequently by the Julio-Claudian dynasty. 

Dates of the Trojan War 

Since this war was considered among the ancient Greeks as either the last event of the mythical age or the first event 
of the historical age, several dates are given for the fall of Troy. They usually derive from genealogies of kings. 
Ephorus gives 1135 BC, [202] Sosibius 1172 BC, [203] Eratosthenes 1184 BC/1183 BC, [204] Timaeus 1193 BC, [205] the 
Parian marble 1209 BC/1208 BC, [206] Dicaearchus 1212 BC, [207] Herodotus around 1250 BC, [208] Eretes 1291 
BC, while Douris 1334 BC. As for the exact day Ephorus gives 23/24 Thargelion (May 6 or 7), Hellanicus 
12 Thargelion (May 26) while others give the 23rd of Sciroforion (July 7) or the 23rd of Ponamos (October 7). 

The glorious and rich city Homer describes was believed to be Troy VI by many twentieth century authors, 
destroyed in 1275 BC, probably by an earthquake. Its follower Troy Vila, destroyed by fire at some point during the 
1180s BC, was long considered a poorer city, but since the excavation campaign of 1988 it has risen to the most 
likely candidate. 

Trojan War 


Historical basis 

The historicity of the Trojan War is 
still subject to debate. Most classical 
Greeks thought that the war was an 
historical event, but many believed that 
the Homeric poems had exaggerated 
the events to suit the demands of 
poetry. For instance, the historian 
Thucydides, who is known for his 
critical spirit, considers it a true event 
but doubts that 1,186 ships were sent 
to Troy. Euripides started changing 
Greek myths at will, including those of 
the Trojan War. Near year 100, Dio 
Chrysostom argued that while the war 

was historical, it ended with the Trojans winning, and the Greeks attempted to hide that fact. Around 1870 it was 

generally agreed in Western Europe that the Trojan War never had happened and Troy never existed. Then 

Heinrich Schliemann popularized his excavations at Hissarlik, which he and others believed to be Troy, and of the 

Mycenaean cities of Greece. Today many scholars agree that the Trojan War is based on a historical core of a Greek 

expedition against the city of Illium, but few would argue that the Homeric poems faithfully represent the actual 

events of the war. 

Map showing the Hittite Empire, Ahhiyawa (possibly the Achaeans) and Wilusa (Troy) 

In November 2001, geologists John C. Kraft from the University of Delaware and John V. Luce from Trinity 
College, Dublin presented the results of investigations into the geology of the region that had started in 

1977. The geologists compared the present geology with the landscapes and coastal features described in the Iliad 
and other classical sources, notably Strabo's Geographia. Their conclusion was that there is regularly a consistency 
between the location of Troy as identified by Schliemann (and other locations such as the Greek camp), the 
geological evidence, and descriptions of the topography and accounts of the battle in the Iliad. 

In the twentieth century scholars have attempted to draw conclusions based on Hittite and Egyptian texts that date to 
the time of the Trojan War. While they give a general description of the political situation in the region at the time, 
their information on whether this particular conflict took place is limited. Andrew Dalby notes that while the Trojan 

War most likely did take place in some form and is therefore grounded in history, its true nature is and will be 

unknown. Hittite archives, like the Tawagalawa letter mention of a kingdom of Ahhiyawa (Achaea, or Greece) 

that lies beyond the sea (that would be the Aegean) and controls Milliwanda, which is identified with Miletus. Also 

mentioned in this and other letters is the Assuwa confederation made of 22 cities and countries which included the 

city of Wilusa (Ilios or Ilium). The Milawata letter implies this city lies on the north of the Assuwa confederation, 

beyond the Seha river. While the identification of Wilusa with Ilium (that is, Troy) is always controversial, in the 

1990s it gained majority acceptance. In the Alaksandu treaty (ca. 1280 BC) the king of the city is named 

Alakasandu, and Paris's son of Priam's name in the Iliad (among other works) is Alexander. The Tawagalawa letter 

(dated ca. 1250 BC) which is addressed to the king of Ahhiyawa actually says: 

Now as we have come to an agreement on Wilusa over which we went to war... 

Formerly under the Hittites, the Assuwa confederation defected after the battle of Kadesh between Egypt and the 
Hittites (ca. 1274 BC). In 1230 BC Hittite king Tudhaliya IV (ca. 1240-1210 BC) campaigned against this 
federation. Under Arnuwanda III (ca. 1210—1205 BC) the Hittites were forced to abandon the lands they controlled 
in the coast of the Aegean. It is possible that the Trojan War was a conflict between the king of Ahhiyawa and the 

Trojan War 269 

Assuwa confederation. This view has been supported in that the entire war includes the landing in Mysia (and 
Telephus' wounding), Achilles's campaigns in the North Aegean and Telamonian Ajax's campaigns in Thrace and 

T701 T2 1 81 

Phrygia. Most of these regions were part of Assuwa. It has also been noted that there is great similarity 

between the names of the Sea Peoples, which at that time were raiding Egypt, as they are listed by Ramesses III and 

Merneptah, and of the allies of the Trojans. 

That most Achean heroes did not return to their homes and founded colonies elsewhere was interpreted by 


Thucydides as being due to their long absence. Nowadays the interpretation followed by most scholars is that the 
Achean leaders driven out of their lands by the turmoil at the end of the Mycenean era preferred to claim 
descendance from exiles of the Trojan War. 

Popular culture 

A full listing of works inspired by the Trojan War has not been attempted, since the inspiration provided by these 
events produced so many works that a list that merely mentions them by name would be larger than the full tale of 
the events of the war. The siege of Troy provided inspiration for many works of art, most famously Homer's Iliad, 
set in the last year of the siege. Some of the others include Troades by Euripides, Troilus and Criseyde by Geoffrey 
Chaucer, Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare, Iphigenia and Polyxena by Samuel Coster, Palamedes by 
Joost van den Vondel and Les Troyens by Hector Berlioz. 

Films based on the Trojan War include Troy (2004). The war has also been featured in many books, television series, 
and other creative works. 


[I] Bryce, Trevor (2005). The Trojans and their neighbours ( 
credit+Calvert#v=onepage&q=Schliemann credit Calvert&f=false). Taylor & Francis, p. 37. ISBN 978-0-415-34959-8. . 

[2] Rutter, Jeremy B.. "Troy VII and the Historicity of the Trojan War" ( 
les/27.html). . Retrieved 2007-07-23. 

[3] In the second edition of his In Search of the Trojan War, Michael Wood notes developments that were made in the intervening ten years since 
his first edition was published. Scholarly skepticism about Schliemann's identification has been dispelled by the more recent archaeological 
discoveries, linguistic research, and translations of clay-tablet records of contemporaneous diplomacy. Wood, Michael (1998). "Preface". In 
Search of the Trojan War (2 ed.). Berkley, CA: University of California Press, p. 4. ISBN 0-520-21599-0. "Now, more than ever, in the 125 
years since Schliemann put his spade into Hisarlik, there appears to be a historical basis to the tale of Troy" 

[4] Wood (1985: 116-118) 

[5] Wood (1985: 19) 

[6] It is unknown whether this Proclus is the Neoplatonic philosopher, in which case the summary dates to the 5th century AD, or whether he is 
the lesser-known grammarian of the 2nd century AD. See Burgess, p. 12. 

[7] Burgess, pp. 10-12; cf. W. Kullmann (1960), Die Quellen der Ilias. 

[8] Burgess, pp. 3—4. 

[9] Scholium on Homer A. 5. 

[10] Plato, Republic 2,379e. 

[II] Apollodorus, Epitome 3.1, Hesiod Fragment 204,95ff 
[12] Apollonius Rhodius 4.757. 

[13] Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 161. 

[14] Scholiast on Homer's Iliad; Hyginus, Fabulae 54; Ovid, Metamorphoses 11.217. 

[15] Apollodorus, Library 3.168. 

[16] Pindar, Nemean 5 ep2; Pindar, Isthmian 8 str3— str5. 

[17] Hesiod, Catalogue of Women fr. 57; Cypria fr. 4. 

[18] Photius, Myrobiblion 190. 

[19] P.Oxy. 56, 3829 (L. Koppel, 1989) 

[20] Hyginus, Fabulae 92. 

[21] Apollodorus Epitome E.3.2 

[22] Pausanias, 15.9.5. 

[23] Euripides Andromache 298; Div. i. 21; Apollodorus, Library 3.12.5. 

[24] Homer Iliad 1.410 

Trojan War 




Apollodorus, Library 3.174. 

Apollonius Rhodius 4.869-879 (http://www.sacred-texts.eom/cla/argo/argo49.htm#4.865-884); Apollodorus, Library 3.13.6 (http:// 
www. perseus. tufts. edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=Apollod. +3. 13.6). 
Frazer on Apollodorus, Library: 3.13.6 (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=Apollod.+3. 13.6). 
Alluded to in Statius, Achilleid 1.269—270 ( 
Hyginus, Fabulae 96. 
Apollodorus 3.10.7. 

Pausanias 1.33.1; Apollodorus, Library 3.10.7. 
Apollodorus, Library 3.10.5; Hyginus, Fabulae 11. 
Apollodorus, Library 3.10.9. 
Pausanias 3.20.9. 

Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History 4 (as summarized in Photius, Myriobiblon 190). 
Pindar, Pythian 11 ep4; Apollodorus, Library 3.11.15. 
Apollodorus, Epitome 2.15. 
Proclus Chrestomathy 1 
Apollodorus, Epitome 3.3. 
Euripides, Helen 40. 
Apollodorus, Epitome 3.4. 
Herodotus, Histories 1.2. 
Apollodorus, Library 3.12.7 '. 
Herodotus, 1.3.1. 
11.3.205-6; 11.139 
Apollodorus, Epitome 3.6. 
Apollodorus, Epitome 3.7. 

11.11.767-70, (lines rejected by Aristophanes and Aristarchus) 
Statius, Achilleid 1.25 
Apollodorus, Library 3.13.8. 

Scholiast on Homer's Iliad 19.326; Ovid, Metamorphoses 13.162 ff. 
Pausanias, 1.22.6. 

Homer, Iliad 11.19 ff.; Apollodurus, Epitome 3.9. 
Philostratus, Heroicus 1 . 
Apollodorus, Epitome 3.15. 
Pausanias, 1.4.6. 
Pindar, Isthmian 8. 
Pausanias, 9.5.14. 
Apollodorus, Epitome 3.20. 
Aeschylus fragment 405— 410 
Pliny, Natural History 24.42, 34. 152. 
Davies, esp. pp. 8, 10. 
Apollodorus, Epitome 3.19. 
Philodemus, On Piety. 
Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses 27. 

Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History 5 (as summarized in Photius, Myriobiblon 190). 
Pausanias, 1.43.1. 

History of the Pelloponesian War 1,10. 

Ioxopta tod E>iAr|vi,Koij 'EOvoxji; (History of the Greek Nation) vol. A, Ekdotiki Athinon, Athens 1968. 
Pantelis Karykas, MuKr|vatoi, no^euroTEi; (Mycenian Warriors), Athens 1999. 

Vice Admiral P.E. Konstas R.H.N. ,H varmKr] rp/euovta xaiv Mt)Kr|V(BV (The naval hegemony of Mycenae), Athens 1966 
Homer, Iliad B.803-806. 
Diodorus iv,38. 
Pausanias 8.33.4 
Apollodorus, Epitome 3.27. 
Apollodorus, Epitome 3.26. 
Apollodorus, Epitome 3.28. 
Herodotus 4.145.3. 
Apollodorus, Epitome 3.29. 
Pausianias 4.2.7. 
Apollodorus, Epitome 3.31. 
Apollodorus, Epitome 3.30. 

Trojan War 


83] Eustathius on Homer, Iliad ii.701. 
84] Scholiast on Lycophron 532. 
85] Thucydides 1.11. 

] Papademetriou Konstantinos, "Ta onAa xov TpauKoij no)i.£|,iovj" ("The weapons of the Trojan War"), Panzer Magazine issue 14, June— July 

2004, Athens. 
87] Iliad 1.328 

] Apollodorus, Epitome 3.32. 

] Apollodorus, Epitome 3.33; translation, Sir James George Frazer. 
90] Volume 5 p.80 

91] Demetrius (2nd century BC) Scholium on Iliad Z,35 
92] Parthenius EpamKci ria8i'i|,iaxa 21 
93] Apollodorus, Library 3.12.5. 
94] Homer, Iliad® 35-155. 
95] Dictis Cretensis ii. 18; Sophocles, Ajax 210. 

96] "Petteia". ( 16/roma/petteia.html) 

97] "Greek Board Games". ( 
98] "Latrunculi". (http://www. personal. 16/roma/latruncu.html) 
99] Kakrides vol. 5 p. 92. 
100] Servius, Scholium on Virgil's Aeneid 2.81 
101] According to other accounts Odysseus, with the other Greek captains, including Agamemnon, conspired together against Palamedes, as all 

were envious of his accomplishments. See Simpson, Gods & Heroes of the Greeks: The Library of Apollodorus, p. 251. 
102] According to Apollodorus Epitome 3.8, Odysseus forced a Phrygian prisoner, to write the letter. 
103] Pausanias 10.31.2; Simpson, Gods & Heroes of the Greeks: The Library of Apollodorus, p. 251. 
104] Apollodorus, Epitome 6.9. 
105] Apollodorus, Epitome 3.10 

106] The exact nature of Achilles' relationship to Patroclus is the subject of some debate. See Achilles and Patroclus for details. 
107] Scholiast on Homer, Iliad, xxiv. 804. 
108] Quintus of Smyrna, Posthomerica i.18 ff. 
109] Apollodorus, Epitome 5.1. 
110] Pausanias 3.26.9. 

Ill] Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History Bk6 (as summarized in Photius, Myriobiblon 190) 
112] Proclus, Chrestomathy 2, Aethiopis. 
113] Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 999. 
114] Apollodorus, Epitome 5.3. 
115] Tzetzes ad Lycophroon 18. 
116] Pausanias 10.31.7. 
117] Dictys Cretensis iv. 4. 
118] Virgil, Aeneid 8.372. 
119] Pindarus Pythian vi. 30. 
120] Quintus Smyrnaeus ii. 224. 
121] Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4.75.4. 
122] Pausanias 1.13.9. 
123] Euripedes, Hecuba 40. 

124] Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica iv. 88—595. 
125] Apollodorus, Epitome 5.5. 
126] Pausanias 3.19.13. 
127] Argument of Sophocles' Ajax 
128] Scholiast on Homer's Odyssey k. 547. 
129] Homer, Odyssey X 542. 
130] Proclus, Chrestomathy 3, Little Iliad. 
131] Pindar, Nemean Odes 8.46(25). 
132] Apollodorus, Epitome 5.6. 
133] Zenobius, Cent. i.43. 
134] Sophocles, Ajax 42, 277, 852. 
135] Either by Calchas, (Apollodorus, Epitome 5.8; Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica 9.325—479), or by Paris' brother Helenus (Proclus, 

Chrestomathy 3, Little Iliad; Sophocles, Philoctetes 604—613; Tzetzes, Posthomerica 571—595). 
[136] This is according to Apollodorus, Epitome 5.8, Hyginus, Fabulae 103, Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica 9.325^-79, and Euripides, 

Philoctetes — but Sophocles, Philoctetes says Odysseus and Neoptolemus, while Proclus, Chrestomathy 3, Little Iliad says Diomedes alone. 

Trojan War 272 

[137] Philoctetes was cured by a son of Asclepius, either Machaon, (Proclus, Chrestomathy 3, Little Iliad; Tzetzes, Posthomerica 571—595) or 

his brother Podalirius (Apollodorus, Epitome 5.8; Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica 9.325^-79). 

[138] Apollodorus, Epitome 5.9. 

[139] Apollodorus, Epitome 5.10; Pausanias 5.13.4. 

[140] Pausanias 5.13.4—6, says that Pelop's shoulder-blade was brought to Troy from Pisa, and on its return home was lost at sea, later to be 

found by a fisherman, and identified as Pelop's by the Oracle at Delphi. 

[141] Apollodorus, Epitome 5.11. 

[142] Odyssey 1.520 

[143] Apollodorus, Epitome 5.12. 

[144] Pausanias 9.5.15. 

[145] Homer, Odyssey 4.242 ff. 

[146] Apollodorus, Epitome 5.13. 

[147] Homer, Odyssey 8.492^-95; Apollodorus, Epitome 5.14. 

[148] Pausanias, 3.13.5. 

[149] Apollodorus, Epitome 5.15, Simpson, p 246. 

[150] Apollodorus, Epitome 5.14, says the hollow horse held 50, but attributes to the author of the Little Iliad a figure of 3,000, a number that 
Simpson, p 265, calls "absurd", saying that the surviving fragments only say that the Greeks put their "best men" inside the horse. Tzetzes, 
Posthomerica 641—650, gives a figure of 23, while Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica xii.3 14—335, gives the names of thirty, and says that 
there were more. In late tradition it seems it was standardized at 40. 

151] Homer, Odyssey 8.500-504; Apollodorus, Epitome 5.15. 

152] Apollodorus, Epitome 5.16, as translated by Simpson, p. 246. Proculus, Chrestomathy 3, Little Iliad, says that the Trojans pulled down a 
part of their walls to admit the horse. 

153] Proclus, Chrestomathy 4, Iliou Persis. 

154] Homer, Odyssey 8.505 ff; Apollodorus, Epitome 5.16—15. 

155] Apollodorus, Epitome 5.17 says that Cassandra warned of an armed force inside the horse, and that Laocoon agreed. 

156] Virgil, Aeneid 2.199-227; Hyginus, Fabulae 135; 

157] Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica xii.444— 49" '; Apollodorus, Epitome 5.18. 

158] Scholiast on Lycophroon, 344. 

159] Apollodorus, Epitome 5.19-20. 

160] Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica xiii. 100— 104, Translation by A.S. Way, 1913. 

161] Apollodorus. Epitome 5.21. 

162] Aristophanes, Lysistrata 155; Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica xiii. 423^-57. 

163] Apollodorus, Epitome 5.22. 

164] Apollodorus, Epitome 5.22; Pausanias 10.31.2; Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica xm.462—413; Virgil, Aeneid 403^406. The rape of 
Cassandra was a popular theme of ancient Greek paintings, see Pausanias, 1.15.2, 5.11.6, 5.19.5, 10.26.3. 

165] Homer, Iliad 3.203—207, 7.347—353; Apollodorus, Epitome, 5.21; Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica xiii. 322— 331, Livy, 1.1; Pausanias, 
10.26.8, 27.3 ff; Strabo, 13.1.53. 

166] Apollodorus. Epitome 5.23. 

167] Proclus, Chrestomathy 4, Ilio Persis, says Odysseus killed Astyanax, while Pausanias, 10.25.9, says Neoptolemus. 

168] Apollodorus, Epitome 5.23. 

169] Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica xiii. 279— 285. 

170] Euripides, Trojan Women 709—739, 1133—1135; Hyginus, Fabulae 109. 

171] Euripides, Hecuba 107-125, 218-224, 391-393, 521-582; Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica xiv.193-328. 

172] Homer, Iliad 3.144. 

173] Apollodorus, Epitome 5.22; Pausanias, 10.25.8; Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica xiii. 547— 595. 

174] Apollodorus, Epitome 6.11. 

175] Apollodorus, Epitome 5.24. 

176] Strabo, 6.1.15. 

177] Apollodorus, Epitome 6.6. 

178] Scholiast on Homer, Iliad 13.66. 

179] Pausanias, 1.28.11. 

180] Pausanias, 8.15.7 

181] Apollodorus, Epitome 6.12 

182] Apollodorus, Epitome 6.13. 

183] Apollodorus, Epitome 6.14. 

184] Plutarch, 23. 

185] Pausanias, 1.28.9. 

186] Tzetzes ad Lycophroon 609. 

187] Strabo, 6.3.9. 

Trojan War 273 

[188] Strabo, 6.1.3. 

[189] Apollodorus, Epitome 6.15b; Strabo, 6.1.3. 

[190] Homer, Odyssey 3.191. 

[191] Virgil, Aeneid 3.400 

[192] Scholiast on Homer's Odyssey 13.259. 

[193] Homer, Odyssey 4.360. 

[194] Homer, Odyssey 4.382. 

[195] Apollodorus, Epitome 6.29. 

[196] Pausanias, 2.16.6. 

[197] Apollodorus, Epitome 6.23. 

[198] Homer, Odyssey 1.30, 298. 

[199] Pausanias, 2.16.7. 

[200] Sophocles, Electro 1405. 

[201] Proclus Chrestomathy 2, Telegony 

[202] FGrHist 70 F 223 

[203] FGrHist 595 Fl 

[204] Chronographiai FGrHist 241 F Id 

[205] FGrHist 566 F 125 

[206] FGrHist 239, §24 

[207] BiosHellados 

[208] Histories 2,145 

[209] FGrHist 242 F 1 

[210] FGrHist 76 F 41 

[211] FGrHist 4 F 152 

[212] Dio Chrysostom The Eleventh Discourse Maintaining that Troy was not Captured (httpV/ 


[213] Yale University: Introduction to Ancient Greek History: Lecture 2 ( 


[214] Confex ( 

[215] Nature ( 

[216] Iliad (, Discovery. 

[217] Wilson, Emily. Was The Iliad written by a woman? (http://www.slate.eom/id/2155360/pagenum/all/#page_start), Slate Magazine, 

December 12, 2006. Accessed June 30, 2008. 

[218] Ioxopia tou EH.r|viKoij 'EOvoui; (History of the Greek Nation) Volume A. Athens: Ekdotiki Athinon, 1968. 

[219] Phoenix Data Systems - Attacks on Egypt ( 

[220] Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War, 1.12.2. 

[221] Graves, Robert. The GreekMyths, "The Returns". 

Further reading 
Ancient authors 

• Apollodorus, Gods & Heroes of the Greeks: The Library of 
Apollodorus, translated by Michael Simpson, The University of 
Massachusetts Press, (1976). ISBN 0-87023-205-3. 

• Apollodorus, Apollodorus: The Library (http://www.perseus. 
tufts. edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=Apollod.+l. 1.1), translated by 
Sir James George Frazer, two volumes, Cambridge MA: Harvard 
University Press and London: William Heinemann Ltd. 1921. 
Volume 1: ISBN 0-674-99135-4. Volume 2: ISBN 0-674-99136-2. Tabula Iliaca, a lst-century BC Roman bas-relief 

depicting scenes from Trojan War narratives 

• Euripides, Andromache ( 
ptext?lookup=Eur.+Andr.+ l), in Euripides: Children of Heracles, Hippolytus, Andromache, Hecuba, with an 
English translation by David Kovacs. Cambridge. Harvard University Press. (1996). ISBN 0-674-99533-3. 

Trojan War 274 

• Euripides, Helen (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=Eur.+Hel.+l), in The Complete 

Greek Drama, edited by Whitney J. Oates and Eugene O'Neill, Jr. in two volumes. 1. Helen, translated by E. P. 
Coleridge. New York. Random House. 1938. 

• Euripides, Hecuba (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=Eur.+Hec.+l), in The Complete 
Greek Drama, edited by Whitney J. Oates and Eugene O'Neill, Jr. in two volumes. 1. Hecuba, translated by E. P. 
Coleridge. New York. Random House. 1938. 

• Herodotus, Histories (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=Hdt. + 1.1.0), A. D. Godley 
(translator), Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1920; ISBN 0-674-99133-8. Online version at the Perseus 
Digital Library]. 

• Pausanias, Description of Greece (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=Paus. +1.1.1), (Loeb 
Classical Library) translated by W. H. S. Jones; Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press; London, 
William Heinemann Ltd. (1918). Vol 1, Books I— II, ISBN 0-674-99104-4; Vol 2, Books III-V, ISBN 
0-674-99207-5; Vol 3, Books VI-VIII.21, ISBN 0-674-99300-4; Vol 4, Books VIII.22-X, ISBN 0-674-99328-4. 

• Proclus, Chrestomathy, in Fragments of the Kypria ( 
translated by H.G. Evelyn-White, 1914 (public domain). 

• Proclus, Proclus' Summary of the Epic Cycle (http://www. ?doc=Stoa:text:2003. 01. 
0004), trans. Gregory Nagy. 

• Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica, in Quintus Smyrnaeus: The Fall of Troy (, Arthur 
Sanders Way (Ed. & Trans.), Loeb Classics #19; Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA. (1913). (1962 
edition: ISBN 0-674-99022-6). 

• Strabo, Geography (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=Strab. +6. 1.1), translated by Horace 
Leonard Jones; Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press; London: William Heinemann, Ltd. (1924) 

Modern authors 

• Burgess, Jonathan S. 2004. The Tradition of the Trojan War in Homer and the Epic Cycle (Johns Hopkins). ISBN 

• Castleden, Rodney. The Attack on Troy. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Pen and Sword Books, 2006 (hardcover, 
ISBN 1-84415-175-1). 

• Davies, Malcolm (2000). "Euripides Telephus Fr. 149 (Austin) and the Folk-Tale Origins of the Teuthranian 
Expedition" ( (PDF). 
Zeitschrift fur Papyrologie und Epigraphik 133: 7—10. 

• Durschmied, Erik. The Hinge Factor:How Chance and Stupidity Have Changed History. Coronet Books; New Ed 
edition (7 Oct 1999). 

• Frazer, Sir James George, Apollodorus: The Library ( 
ptext?lookup=Apollod.+ 1.1.1), two volumes, Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press and London: William 
Heinemann Ltd. 1921. Volume 1: ISBN 0-674-99135-4. Volume 2: ISBN 0-674-99136-2. 

• Graves, Robert. The Greek Myths, Penguin (Non-Classics); Cmb/Rep edition (April 6, 1993). ISBN 

• Kakridis, J., 1988. EWnvLKT] MuOoXoyLa ("Greek mythology"), Ekdotiki Athinon, Athens. 

• Karykas, Pantelis, 2003. MuicnvaLOL HoXe|.uo"te<; ("Mycenean Warriors"), Communications Editions, Athens. 

• Latacz, Joachim. Troy and Homer: Towards a Solution of an Old Mystery. New York: Oxford University Press 
(USA), 2005 (hardcover, ISBN 0-19-926308-6). 

• Simpson, Michael. Gods & Heroes of the Greeks: The Library of Apollodorus, The University of Massachusetts 
Press, (1976). ISBN 0-87023-205-3. 

• Strauss, Barry. The Trojan War: A New History. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006 (hardcover, ISBN 
0-7432-644 1-X). 

Trojan War 


• Thompson, Diane P. The Trojan War: Literature and Legends from the Bronze Age to the Present. Jefferson, NC: 
McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-1737-4 (paperback). 

• Troy: From Homer's Iliad to Hollywood Epic, edited by Martin M. Winkler. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2007 
(hardcover, ISBN 1-4051-3182-9; paperback, ISBN 1-4051-3183-7). 

• Wood, Michael. In Search of the Trojan War. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998 (paperback, ISBN 
0-520-21599-0); London: BBC Books, 1985 (ISBN 0-563-20161-4). 

External links 

• Was There a Trojan War? ( Maybe so. From Archeology, a 
publication of the Archeological Institute of America. May/June 2004 

• The Trojan War ( at Greek Mythology Link (http:/ 
/homepage . mac . com/cparada/GML/) 

• The Legend of the Trojan War ( 

• Mortal Women of the Trojan War ( 

• The Historicity of the Trojan War ( 
27.html) The location of Troy and possible connections with the city of Teuthrania. 

• The Greek Age of Bronze "Trojan war" ( 

• The Trojan War: A Prologue to Homer's Iliad ( 

• BBC audio podcast ( Melvyn Bragg interviews Edith Hall and 
others on historicity, history and archaeology of the war. [ Play ( 


In Greek mythology, Achilles (Ancient 
Greek: AxlXXeiji;, Akhilleus, 

pronounced [ak h illews]) was a Greek 
hero of the Trojan War, the central 
character and the greatest warrior of 
Homer's Iliad. 

Later legends (beginning with a poem 
by Statius in the 1st century AD) state 
that Achilles was invulnerable in all of 
his body except for his heel. As he died 
because of a small wound on his heel, 
the term Achilles' heel has come to 
mean one's point of weakness. 


Achilles' name can be analyzed as a 
combination of ax°Q (akhos) "grief 
and Xaoc, (Laos) "a people, tribe, 

Achilles and the Nereid Cymothoe: Attic red-figure kantharos from Volci (Cabinet des 
Medailles, Bibliotheque nationale, Paris) 



nation, etc." In other words, Achilles is an embodiment of the grief of the people, grief being a theme raised 
numerous times in the Iliad (frequently by Achilles). Achilles' role as the hero of grief forms an ironic juxtaposition 
with the conventional view of Achilles as the hero of kleos (glory, usually glory in war). 

Laos has been construed by Gregory Nagy, following Leonard Palmer, to mean a corps of soldiers, a muster. With 
this derivation, the name would have a double meaning in the poem: When the hero is functioning rightly, his men 
bring grief to the enemy, but when wrongly, his men get the grief of war. The poem is in part about the misdirection 
of anger on the part of leadership. 

The name Achilleus was a common and attested name among the Greeks soon after the 7th century BC. It was also 
turned into the female form AxlXXelo (Achilleia) attested in Attica in the 4th century BC (IG IP 1617) and, in the 
form Achillia, on a stele in Halicarnassus as the name of a female gladiator fighting an "Amazon". Roman 
gladiatorial games often referenced classical mythology, and this seems to reference Achilles' fight with Penthesilea 
but gives it an extra twist of Achilles' being "played" by a woman. 


Achilles was the son of the nymph Thetis and Peleus, the king of the 
Myrmidons. Zeus and Poseidon had been rivals for the hand of Thetis 
until Prometheus, the fore-thinker, warned Zeus of a prophecy that 

Thetis would bear a son greater than his father. For this reason, the two 

gods withdrew their pursuit, and had her wed Peleus. 

As with most mythology, there is a tale which offers an alternative 
version of these events: in Argonautica (iv.760) Zeus' sister and wife 
Hera alludes to Thetis' chaste resistance to the advances of Zeus, that 
Thetis was so loyal to Hera's marriage bond that she coolly rejected 
him. Thetis, although a daughter of the sea-god Nereus, was also 
brought up by Hera, further explaining her resistance to the advances 
of Zeus. 

Thetis Dipping the Infant Achilles into the River 
Styx (ca. 1625), Peter Paul Rubens 

According to the Achilleid, written by Statius in the 1st century AD, 
and to no surviving previous sources, when Achilles was born Thetis 
tried to make him immortal, by dipping him in the river Styx. 
However, he was left vulnerable at the part of the body by which she 
held him, his heel (see Achilles heel, Achilles' tendon). It is not clear 
if this version of events was known earlier. In another version of this 
story, Thetis anointed the boy in ambrosia and put him on top of a fire, 
to burn away the mortal parts of his body. She was interrupted by 

Peleus and abandoned both father and son in a rage 


The Education of Achilles (ca. 1772), by James 

However, none of the sources before Statius makes any reference to 
this general invulnerability. To the contrary, in the Iliad Homer 
mentions Achilles being wounded: in Book 21 the Paeonian hero 

Asteropaeus, son of Pelagon, challenged Achilles by the river Scamander. He cast two spears at once, one grazed 

Achilles' elbow, "drawing a spurt of blood". 



Also, in the fragmentary poems of the Epic Cycle in which we can find description of the hero's death, Cypria 
(unknown author), Aithiopis by Arctinus of Miletus, Little Iliad by Lesche of Mytilene, Iliou persis by Arctinus of 
Miletus, there is no trace of any reference to his general invulnerability or his famous weakness (heel); in the later 
vase paintings presenting Achilles' death, the arrow (or in many cases, arrows) hit his body. 

Peleus entrusted Achilles to Chiron the Centaur, on Mt. Pelion, to be reared 


Achilles in the Trojan War 

The first two lines of the Iliad read: 

utjvlv cxel8e Oeoc IlT]A.r|'La8Ea> A/lXtjoc; 

oiJXouivr|v, r\ irupL' A/QuoTi; akye' e6i]Kev, 

Sing, Goddess, of the rage of Peleus' son Achilles, 

the accursed rage that brought great suffering to the Achaeans. 

Achilles' consuming rage is at times wavering, but at other times he 
cannot be cooled. The humanization of Achilles by the events of the 
war is an important theme of the narrative. 

According to the Iliad, Achilles arrived at Troy with 50 ships, each 
carrying 50 Myrmidons (Book 2). He appointed five leaders (each 
leader commanding 500 Myrmidons): Menesthius, Eudorus, Peisander, 
Phoenix and Alcimedon (Book 16). 


The Rage of Achilles, by Giovanni Battista 

When the Greeks left for the Trojan War, they accidentally stopped in 
Mysia, ruled by King Telephus. In the resulting battle, Achilles gave Telephus a wound that would not heal; 
Telephus consulted an oracle, who stated that "he that wounded shall heal". Guided by the oracle, he arrived at 
Argos, where Achilles healed him in order that he might become their guide for the voyage to Troy. 

According to other reports in Euripides' lost play about Telephus, he went to Aulis pretending to be a beggar and 
asked Achilles to heal his wound. Achilles refused, claiming to have no medical knowledge. Alternatively, Telephus 
held Orestes for ransom, the ransom being Achilles' aid in healing the wound. Odysseus reasoned that the spear had 
inflicted the wound; therefore, the spear must be able to heal it. Pieces of the spear were scraped off onto the wound 
and Telephus was healed. 




According to the Cypria (the part of the Epic Cycle that tells the events of the Trojan War before Achilles' Wrath), 
when the Achaeans desired to return home, they were restrained by Achilles, who afterwards attacked the cattle of 
Aeneas, sacked neighboring cities and killed Troilus. 

According to Dares Phrygius' Account of the Destruction of Troy, 1 ,J the Latin summary through which the story of 
Achilles was transmitted to medieval Europe, Troilus was a young Trojan prince, the youngest of King Priam's (or 
sometimes Apollo) and Hecuba's five legitimate sons. Despite his youth, he was one of the main Trojan war leaders. 
Prophecies linked Troilus' fate to that of Troy and so he was ambushed in an attempt to capture him. Yet Achilles, 
struck by the beauty of both Troilus and his sister Polyxena, and overcome with lust, directed his sexual attentions on 
the youth — who refusing to yield found instead himself decapitated upon an altar-omphalos of Apollo. Later 
versions of the story suggested Troilus was accidentally killed by Achilles in an over-ardent lovers' embrace. In this 


version of the myth, Achilles' death therefore came in retribution for this sacrilege. Ancient writers treated Troilus 
as the epitome of a dead child mourned by his parents. Had Troilus lived to adulthood, the First Vatican 



Mythographer claimed Troy would have been invincible. 

Achilles sacrificing to Zeus, from the Ambrosian 
Iliad, a 5th-century illuminated manuscript 

Achilles in the Iliad 

Homer's Iliad is the most famous narrative of Achilles' deeds in the 

Trojan War. Achilles' wrath is the central theme of the book. The 

Homeric epic only covers a few weeks of the war, and does not narrate 

Achilles' death. It begins with Achilles' withdrawal from battle after he 

is dishonored by Agamemnon, the commander of the Achaean forces. 

Agamemnon had taken a woman named Chryseis as his slave. Her 

father Chryses, a priest of Apollo, begged Agamemnon to return her to 

him. Agamemnon refused and Apollo sent a plague amongst the 

Greeks. The prophet Calchas correctly determined the source of the 

troubles but would not speak unless Achilles vowed to protect him. 

Achilles did so and Calchas declared Chryseis must be returned to her father. Agamemnon consented, but then 

commanded that Achilles' battle prize Briseis be brought to replace Chryseis. Angry at the dishonor (and as he says 

later, because he loved Briseis) and at the urging of his mother Thetis, Achilles refused to fight or lead his troops 

alongside the other Greek forces. At this same time, burning with rage over Agamemnon's theft, Achilles prayed to 

Thetis to convince Zeus to help the Trojans gain ground in the war, so that he may regain his honor. 

As the battle turned against the Greeks, thanks to the influence of Zeus, Nestor declared that the Trojans were 
winning because Agamemnon had angered Achilles, and urged the king to appease the warrior. Agamemnon agreed 
and sent Odysseus and two other chieftains, Ajax and Phoenix, to Achilles with the offer of the return of Briseis and 
other gifts. Achilles rejected all Agamemnon offered him, and simply urged the Greeks to sail home as he was 
planning to do. 

The Trojans, led by Hector, subsequently pushed the Greek army back toward the beaches and assaulted the Greek 
ships. With the Greek forces on the verge of absolute destruction, Patroclus led the Myrmidons into battle wearing 
Achilles' armor, though Achilles remained at his camp. Patroclus succeeded in pushing the Trojans back from the 
beaches, but was killed by Hector before he could lead a proper assault on the city of Troy. 

After receiving the news of the death of 
Patroclus from Antilochus, the son of 
Nestor, Achilles grieved over his beloved 
companion's death and held many funeral 
games in his honor. His mother Thetis came 
to comfort the distraught Achilles. She 
persuaded Hephaestus to make a new armor 
for him, in place of the armor that Patroclus 
had been wearing which was taken by 
Hector. The new armor included the Shield 
of Achilles, described in great detail by the 

Triumphant Achilles dragging Hector's lifeless body in front of the Gates of Troy 
(from a panoramic fresco on the upper level of the main hall of the Achilleion). 

Enraged over the death of Patroclus, Achilles ended his refusal to fight and took the field killing many men in his 
rage but always seeking out Hector. Achilles even engaged in battle with the river god Scamander who became 
angry that Achilles was choking his waters with all the men he killed. The god tried to drown Achilles but was 
stopped by Hera and Hephaestus. Zeus himself took note of Achilles' rage and sent the gods to restrain him so that he 

would not go on to sack Troy itself, seeming to show that the unhindered rage of Achilles could defy fate itself as 
Troy was not meant to be destroyed yet. Finally, Achilles found his prey. Achilles chased Hector around the wall of 



Troy three times before Athena, in the form of Hector's favorite and dearest brother, Deiphobus, persuaded Hector to 
stop running and fight Achilles face to face. After Hector realized the trick, he knew the battle was inevitable. 
Wanting to go down fighting, he charged at Achilles with his only weapon, his sword, but missed. Accepting his 
fate, Hector begged Achilles, not to spare his life, but to treat his body with respect after killing him. Achilles told 
Hector it was hopeless to expect that of him, declaring that "my rage, my fury would drive me now to hack your 
flesh away and eat you raw — such agonies you have caused me". Achilles then got his vengeance. 

With the assistance of the god Hermes, Hector's father, Priam, went to Achilles' tent to plead with Achilles to permit 
him to perform for Hector his funeral rites. The final passage in the Iliad is Hector's funeral, after which the doom of 
Troy was just a matter of time. 


Achilles, after his temporary truce with Priam, fought and killed the Amazonian warrior queen Penthesilea, but later 
grieved over her death. At first, he was so distracted by her beauty, he did not fight as intensely as usual. Once he 
realized that his distraction was endangering his life, he refocused and killed her. As he grieved over the death of 
such a rare beauty, a notorious Greek jeerer by the name of Thersites laughed and mocked the great Achilles. 
Annoyed by his insensitivity and disrespect, Achilles punched him in the face and killed him instantly. 

Memnon, and the fall of Achilles 

Following the death of Patroclus, Achilles' closest companion was 
Nestor's son Antilochus. When Memnon, king of Ethiopia slew 
Antilochus, Achilles once more obtained revenge on the battlefield, 
killing Memnon. The fight between Achilles and Memnon over 
Antilochus echoes that of Achilles and Hector over Patroclus, except 
that Memnon (unlike Hector) was also the son of a goddess. 

Many Homeric scholars argued that episode inspired many details in 
the Iliads description of the death of Patroclus and Achilles' reaction to 
it. The episode then formed the basis of the cyclic epic Aethiopis, 
which was composed after the Iliad, possibly in the 7th century B.C. 
The Aethiopis is now lost, except for scattered fragments quoted by 
later authors. 

The death of Achilles, as predicted by Hector with his dying breath, was brought about by Paris with an arrow (to the 
heel according to Statius). In some versions, the god Apollo guided Paris' arrow. Some retellings also state that 
Achilles was scaling the gates of Troy and was hit with a poisoned arrow. 

Achilles dying in the gardens of the Achilleion in 



All of these versions deny Paris any sort of valor, owing to the 
common conception that Paris was a coward and not the man his 
brother Hector was, and Achilles remained undefeated on the 
battlefield. His bones were mingled with those of Patroclus, and 
funeral games were held. He was represented in the Aethiopis as living 
after his death in the island of Leuke at the mouth of the river Danube. 

Another version of Achilles' death is that he fell deeply in love with 
one of the Trojan princesses, Polyxena. Achilles asks Priam for 
Polyxena's hand in marriage. Priam is willing because it would mean 
the end of the war and an alliance with the world's greatest warrior. But 
while Priam is overseeing the private marriage of Polyxena and 
Achilles, Paris, who would have to give up Helen if Achilles married 
his sister, hides in the bushes and shoots Achilles with a divine arrow, 
killing him. 

Achilles was cremated and his ashes buried in the same urn as those of 



Paris was later killed by Philoctetes using the enormous bow of 

Ajax carries off the body of Achilles: Attic 

black-figure lekythos, ca. 510 BC, from Sicily 

(Staatliche Antikensammlungen, Munich) 

Fate of Achilles' armor 

Achilles' armor was the object of a feud between Odysseus and Telamonian Ajax (Ajax the greater). They competed 
for it by giving speeches on why they were the bravest after Achilles to their Trojan prisoners, who after considering 
both men came to a consensus in favor of Odysseus. Furious, Ajax cursed Odysseus, which earned the ire of Athena. 
Athena temporarily made Ajax so mad with grief and anguish that he began killing sheep, thinking them his 
comrades. After a while, when Athena lifted his madness and Ajax realized that he had actually been killing sheep, 
Ajax was left so ashamed that he committed suicide. Odysseus eventually gave the armor to Neoptolemus, the son of 

A relic claimed to be Achilles' bronze-headed spear was for centuries preserved in the temple of Athena on the 
acropolis of Phaselis, Lycia, a port on the Pamphylian Gulf. The city was visited in 333 BC by Alexander the Great, 
who envisioned himself as the new Achilles and carried the Iliad with him, but his court biographers do not mention 


the spear, which he would indeed have touched with excitement. But it was being shown in the time of Pausanias 

in the 2nd century AD 


Achilles and Patroclus 

The exact nature of Achilles' relationship with Patroclus has been a subject of dispute in both the classical period and 
modern times. In the Iliad, it appears to be the model of a deep and loyal friendship, but commentators from classical 
antiquity to the present have often interpreted the relationship through the lens of their own cultures. In 5th-century 
BC Athens, the intense bond was often viewed in light of the Greek custom of paiderasteia. In Plato's Symposium, 
the participants in a dialogue about love debate assume that Achilles and Patroclus were a couple; Phaedrus argues 


that Achilles was the younger and more beautiful one so he was the beloved and Patroclus was the lover. But 
ancient Greek had no words to distinguish "heterosexual" and "homosexual," and it was assumed that a man 
could both desire handsome young men and have sex with women. Although epic decorum excluded explicit 
sexuality, the Iliad indicates that Achilles had sexual relations with women, with no direct evidence of sexual 
behaviors with Patroclus. In the 2004 film Troy, Achilles and Patroclus were cousins. 



Achilles and Briseis 

Worship of Achilles in antiquity 

There was an archaic heroic cult of Achilles on the White Island, 
Leuce, in the Black Sea off the modern coasts of Romania and 
Ukraine, with a temple and an oracle which survived into the Roman 

In the lost epic Aithiopis, a continuation of the Iliad attributed to 
Arktinus of Miletos, Achilles' mother Thetis returned to mourn him 
and removed his ashes from the pyre and took them to Leuce at the 
mouths of the Danube. There the Achaeans raised a tumulus for him 
and celebrated funeral games. 

Pliny's Natural History (IV. 27.1) mentions a tumulus that is no longer 
evident {Insula Akchillis tumulo eius viri clara), on the island 
consecrated to him, located at a distance of fifty Roman miles from 
Peuce by the Danube Delta, and the temple there. Pausanias has been 
told that the island is "covered with forests and full of animals, some 
wild, some tame. In this island there is also Achilles' temple and his 
statue" (III. 19.11). Ruins of a square temple 30 meters to a side, 
possibly that dedicated to Achilles, were discovered by Captain 
Kritzikly in 1823, but there has been no modern archeological work 
done on the island. 

Pomponius Mela tells that Achilles is buried in the island named Achillea, between Boristhene and Ister {De situ 
orbis, II, 7). The Greek geographer Dionysius Periegetus of Bithynia, who lived at the time of Domitian, writes that 
the island was called Leuce "because the wild animals which live there are white. It is said that there, in Leuce 
island, reside the souls of Achilles and other heroes, and that they wander through the uninhabited valleys of this 
island; this is how Jove rewarded the men who had distinguished themselves through their virtues, because through 
virtue they had acquired everlasting honor". 

The Periplus of the Euxine Sea gives the following details: "It is said that the goddess Thetis raised this island from 
the sea, for her son Achilles, who dwells there. Here is his temple and his statue, an archaic work. This island is not 
inhabited, and goats graze on it, not many, which the people who happen to arrive here with their ships, sacrifice to 
Achilles. In this temple are also deposited a great many holy gifts, craters, rings and precious stones, offered to 
Achilles in gratitude. One can still read inscriptions in Greek and Latin, in which Achilles is praised and celebrated. 
Some of these are worded in Patroclus' honor, because those who wish to be favored by Achilles, honor Patroclus at 
the same time. There are also in this island countless numbers of sea birds, which look after Achilles' temple. Every 
morning they fly out to sea, wet their wings with water, and return quickly to the temple and sprinkle it. And after 
they finish the sprinkling, they clean the hearth of the temple with their wings. Other people say still more, that some 
of the men who reach this island, come here intentionally. They bring animals in their ships, destined to be 
sacrificed. Some of these animals they slaughter, others they set free on the island, in Achilles' honor. But there are 
others, who are forced to come to this island by sea storms. As they have no sacrificial animals, but wish to get them 
from the god of the island himself, they consult Achilles' oracle. They ask permission to slaughter the victims chosen 
from among the animals that graze freely on the island, and to deposit in exchange the price which they consider fair. 
But in case the oracle denies them permission, because there is an oracle here, they add something to the price 
offered, and if the oracle refuses again, they add something more, until at last, the oracle agrees that the price is 
sufficient. And then the victim doesn't run away any more, but waits willingly to be caught. So, there is a great 
quantity of silver there, consecrated to the hero, as price for the sacrificial victims. To some of the people who come 
to this island, Achilles appears in dreams, to others he would appear even during their navigation, if they were not 



too far away, and would instruct them as to which part of the island they would better anchor their ships", (quoted in 

The heroic cult of Achilles on Leuce island was widespread in antiquity, not only along the sea lanes of the Pontic 
Sea but also in maritime cities whose economic interests were tightly connected to the riches of the Black Sea. 

Achilles from Leuce island was venerated as Pontarches the lord and master of the Pontic Sea, the protector of 
sailors and navigation. Sailors went out of their way to offer sacrifice. To Achilles of Leuce were dedicated a number 
of important commercial port cities of the Greek waters: Achilleion in Messenia (Stephanus Byzantinus), Achilleios 
in Laconia (Pausanias, 111.25,4) Nicolae Densusjanu (Densusjanu 1913) even though he recognized Achilles in the 
name of Aquileia and in the north arm of the Danube delta, the arm of Chilia ("Achileii"), though his conclusion, that 
Leuce had sovereign rights over Pontos, evokes modern rather than archaic sea-law." 

Leuce had also a reputation as a place of healing. Pausanias (111.19,13) reports that the Delphic Pythia sent a lord of 
Croton to be cured of a chest wound. Ammianus Marcellinus (XXII. 8) attributes the healing to waters {aquae) on the 

Worship of Achilles in modern times: The Achilleion in Corfu 

In the region of Gastouri (raotoiipL) to the south of the city of Corfu Greece, Empress of Austria Elisabeth of 
Bavaria also known as Sissi built in 1890 a summer palace with Achilles as its central theme and it is a monument to 
platonic romanticism. The palace, naturally, was named after Achilles: Achilleion (AylXkziov). This elegant structure 
abounds with paintings and statues of Achilles both in the main hall and in the lavish gardens depicting the heroic 
and tragic scenes of the Trojan war. 

Other stories 

Achilles as guardian of the palace in the gardens 

of the Achilleion in Corfu. He gazes northward 

toward the city. The inscription in Greek reads: 

AXIAAETI i.e. Achilles 

Some post-Homeric sources claim that in order to keep Achilles safe 
from the war, Thetis (or, in some versions, Peleus) hides the young 
man at the court of Lycomedes, king of Skyros. There, Achilles is 
disguised as a girl and lives among Lycomedes' daughters, perhaps 
under the name "Pyrrha" (the red-haired girl). With Lycomedes' 
daughter Deidamia, whom in the account of Statius he rapes, Achilles 
there fathers a son, Neoptolemus (also called Pyrrhus, after his father's 
possible alias). According to this story, Odysseus learns from the 
prophet Calchas that the Achaeans would be unable to capture Troy 
without Achilles' aid. Odysseus goes to Skyros in the guise of a peddler 
selling women's clothes and jewelry and places a shield and spear 
among his goods. When Achilles instantly takes up the spear, 
Odysseus sees through his disguise and convinces him to join the 
Greek campaign. In another version of the story, Odysseus arranges for 
a trumpet alarm to be sounded while he was with Lycomedes' women; 
while the women flee in panic, Achilles prepares to defend the court, 

thus giving his identity away 


In book 1 1 of Homer's Odyssey, Odysseus sails to the underworld and 

converses with the shades. One of these is Achilles, who when greeted 

as "blessed in life, blessed in death", responds that he would rather be a slave to the worst of masters than be king of 

all the dead. But Achilles then asks Odysseus of his son's exploits in the Trojan war, and when Odysseus tells of 

Neoptolemus' heroic actions, Achilles is filled with satisfaction. This leaves the reader with an ambiguous 
understanding of how Achilles felt about the heroic life. Achilles was worshipped as a sea-god in many of the Greek 

Achilles 283 

colonies on the Black Sea, the location of the mythical "White Island" which he was said to inhabit after his death, 
together with many other heroes. 

The kings of the Epirus claimed to be descended from Achilles through his son, Neoptolemus. Alexander the Great, 
son of the Epirote princess Olympias, could therefore also claim this descent, and in many ways strove to be like his 


great ancestor. He is said to have visited the tomb of Achilles at Achilleion while passing Troy. In AD 216 the 
Roman Emperor Caracalla, while on his way to war against Parthia, emulated Alexander by holding games around 
Achilles' tumulus. 

Achilles fought and killed the Amazon Helene. Some also said he married Medea, and that after both their deaths 
they were united in the Elysian Fields of Hades — as Hera promised Thetis in Apollonius' Argonautica. In some 
versions of the myth, Achilles has a relationship with his captive Briseis. 

Achilles in Greek tragedy 

The Greek tragedian Aeschylus wrote a trilogy of plays about Achilles, given the title Achilleis by modern scholars. 
The tragedies relate the deeds of Achilles during the Trojan War, including his defeat of Hector and eventual death 
when an arrow shot by Paris and guided by Apollo punctures his heel. Extant fragments of the Achilleis and other 
Aeschylean fragments have been assembled to produce a workable modern play. The first part of the Achilleis 
trilogy, The Myrmidons, focused on the relationship between Achilles and chorus, who represent the Achaean army 
and try to convince Achilles to give up his quarrel with Agamemnon; only a few lines survive today. In Plato's 
Symposium, Phaedrus points out that Aeschylus portrayed Achilles as the lover and Patroclus as the beloved; 
Phaedrus argues that this is incorrect because Achilles, being the younger and more beautiful of the two, was the 


beloved, who loved his lover so much that he chose to die to revenge him. 

The tragedian Sophocles also wrote The Lovers of Achilles, a play with Achilles as the main character. Only a few 
fragments survive. 



Achilles in Greek philosophy 

The philosopher Zeno of Elea centered one of his paradoxes on an imaginary footrace between "swift-footed" 
Achilles and a tortoise, by which he attempted to show that Achilles could not catch up to a tortoise with a head start, 
and therefore that motion and change were impossible. As a student of the monist Parmenides and a member of the 
Eleatic school, Zeno believed time and motion to be illusions. 

Achilles in later art 


• Achilles is portrayed as a former hero who has become lazy and 
devoted to the love of Patroclus, in William Shakespeare's Troilus 
and Cressida. 


• Achilles plays a part in the novel, The Firebrand by Marion Zimmer 

• In Aaron Allston's Galatea in 2-D, a painting of Achilles is one of 
those brought to life. 

• Achilles appears in Dante's Inferno. 

• Achilles is one of the beings who empower DC Comics hero 
Captain Marvel, giving him courage and later invulnerability. 

• The ghost of Achilles appears in the Percy Jackson novel The Last 
Olympian, warning Percy that if he enters the river Styx, he will 
obtain great strength but also a greater weakness. 

• Achilles is a central character in David Malouf s novel Ransom 

• Achilles is a major character in P. C. Cast's sixth Goddess 
Summoning novel Warrior Rising. The novel centers on his 
relationship with Polyxena. 

• Achilles is a major character in Madeline Miller's debut novel, The Song of Achilles (201 1), which won the 2012 
Orange Prize for Fiction. The novel explores the relationship between Patroclus and Achilles from boyhood to the 
fateful events of the Iliad. 

The Wrath of Achilles, by Franjois-Leon 
Benouville (1821-1859) (Musee Fabre) 


The role of Achilles has been played by: 

Piero Lulli in Ulysses (1955) 

Stanley Baker in Helen of Troy (1956) 

Riley Ottenhof in Something about Zeus (1958) 

Arturo Dominici in La Guerra di Troia (1962) 

Gordon Mitchell in The Fury of Achilles (1962) 

Derek Jacobi [voice] in Achilles (Channel Four Television) by Barry Purves (1995) 

Steve Davislim in La Belle Helene (TV, 1996) 

Richard Trewett in the miniseries The Odyssey (TV, 1997) 

Joe Montana in Helen of Troy (TV, 2003) 

Achilles 285 

• Brad Pitt in Troy (2004) 


Achilles has frequently been mentioned in music: 

Achilles is a hardcore band. 

"Achilles" is an oratorio by German composer Max Bruch (1885). 

"Achilles" is a song by Jag Panzer {Casting the Stones). 

"Achilles, Agony & Ecstasy In Eight Parts", by Manowar (The Triumph of Steel, 1992). 

"Achilles" is a song by New Jersey screamo band You and I. 

"Achilles: The Back Breaker" is a song by The Showdown. 

Achilles Heel is an album by Pedro the Lion. 

"Achilles' Heel" is a song by Toploader. 

"Achilles Last Stand", by Led Zeppelin {Presence, 1976). 

"Achilles' Revenge" is a song by Warlord. 

"Achilles' Wrath" is a concert piece by Sean O'Loughlin. 

Achilles' death is mentioned in the song "Helen and Cassandra" from the album "Last Days of the Century" by Al 


Achilles is referred to in Bob Dylan's song "Temporary Like Achilles". 

Achilles is mentioned in the song "Third Temptation Of Paris", by Alesana. 

Achilles is mentioned in the song "The Mechanic", by 50 Cent. 

Achilles is mentioned in the song "57821", by Janelle Monae ft. Deep Cotton. 


• In the animated television series Class of the Titans, one of the seven heroes, Archie, is descended from Achilles 
and has inherited both his vulnerable heel and part of his invincibility. 


• "Achilles in the Trench" is a famous poem by Patrick Shaw-Stewart. 

• The Triumph of Achilles is Louise Gliick's fourth collection of poetry. 

• "The Shield of Achilles" is a notable work of W.H. Auden. 

• Achilles is also mentioned in "War Music" by Christopher Logue, "Achilles' Song" by Robert Duncan, "Ars 
Poetica" by Eleanor Wilner, "Portrait of a Lady" by T.S. Eliot, and "Vietnam Epic Treatment" by Donald Revell. 

Video games 

• Achilles is central and playable character in KOEI's Warriors: Legends of Troy. He also appears as a guest 
character in KOEI's Musou Orochi 2 (Warriors Orochi 3). 


• The name of Achilles has been used for at least nine Royal Navy warships since 1744. A 60-gun ship of that name 
served at the Battle of Belleisle in 1761 while a 74-gun ship served at the Battle of Trafalgar. Other battle honours 
include Walcheren 1809. An armored cruiser of that name served in the Royal Navy during the First World War 
and was scrapped in 1921. 

• HMNZS Achilles was a Leander class cruiser which served with the Royal New Zealand Navy in World War II. It 
became famous for its part in the Battle of the River Plate, alongside HMS Ajax and HMS Exeter. In addition to 
earning the battle honour 'River Plate', HMNZS Achilles also served at Guadalcanal 1942—43 and Okinawa in 

Achilles 286 

1945. The ship was sold to the Indian Navy in 1948 but when she was scrapped parts of the ship were saved and 
preserved in New Zealand. 

• Prince Achileas-Andreas of Greece and Denmark, the grandson of the deposed Greek king, Constantine II. 

• The character Achilles in Ender's Shadow, by Orson Scott Card. Achilles shares his namesake's cunning mind and 
ruthless attitude. 

• In the Star Trek universe, the Achilles Class is an advanced type of Federation battleship brought into service at 
the outbreak of the Dominion War, though not seen in any of the canon Star Trek TV series. 

• Achilles armor and valour is includeded in Titan Quest and TQ Immortal Throne. 


[I] Epigraphical database (*AXIL&first=250) gives 476 matches for 'A%ik-.The 
earliest ones: Corinth 7th c. BC (, Delphi 
530 BC ( 18&region=3&subregion=7), Attica and Elis 5th c. BC 

[2] Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 755—768; Pindar, Nemean 5.34—37, Isthmian 8.26—47; Poeticon astronomicon (ii.15) 

[3] Burgess, Jonathan S. (2009). The Death and Afterlife of Achilles ( 

dq=Achilleid+dipped+Styx&cd=53#v=onepage&q=). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, p. 9. ISBN 0-8018-9029-2. . Retrieved 5 

February 2010. 
[4] Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica 4.869-879. 
[5] Hesiod, Catalogue of Women, fr. 204.87-89 MW; Iliad 11.830-32 

[6] "Proclus' Summary of the Cypria" ( . Retrieved 2010-03-09. 
[7] "Dares' account of the destruction of Troy, Greek Mythology Link" (http://web.archive.Org/web/20091229022803/http://homepage. Archived from the original ( 

DaresTW.html) on 29 December 2009. . Retrieved 2010-03-09. 
[8] James Davidson, "Zeus Be Nice Now" ( in London Review of Books; 19 July 2007, 

accessed October 23, 2007 
[9] Iliad 9.334-343. 
[10] "The Iliad", Fagles translation. Penguin Books, 1991, p. 553. 

[II] Hamilton E. Mythology, New York: Penguin Books; 1969 

[12] "Alexander came to rest at Phaselis, a coastal city which was later renowned for the possession of Achilles' original spear." Robin Lane Fox, 

Alexander the Great 1973.144. 
[13] Pausanias, iii.3.6; see Christian Jacob and Anne Mullen-Hohl, "The Greek Traveler's Areas of Knowledge: Myths and Other Discourses in 

Pausanias' Description of Greece", Yale French Studies 59: Rethinking History: Time, Myth, and Writing (1980:65—85) esp. p. 81. 
[14] Plato, Symposium, 180a (http://www.perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Plat.+Sym.+180a); the beauty of Achilles was a topic already 

broached at Iliad 2.673- 4. 
[15] Kenneth Dover, Greek Homosexuality (Harvard University Press, 1978, 1989), p. 1 et passim. 
[16] Guy Hedreen, "The Cult of Achilles in the Euxine" Hesperia 60.3 (July 1991), pp. 313-330. 
[17] Orbis descriptio, v. 541, quoted in Densusianu 1913 
[18] Philostratus Junior, Imagines i; Scholiast on Homer's Iliad, xix. 326; Ovid, Metamorphoses 13.162ff, Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca iii. 

13. 8, Statius, Achilleid, ii. 167ff. 
[19] Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri 1.12.1, Cicero, Pro Archia Poeta 24. 
[20] DioCassius 78.16.7. 

[21] Pantelis Michelakis, Achilles in Greek Tragedy, 2002, p. 22 
[22] Plato, Symposium, translated Benjamin Jowett, Dover Thrift Editions, page 8 

Achilles 287 


Homer, Iliad 

Homer, Odyssey XI, 467-540 

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca III, xiii, 5—8 

Apollodorus, Epitome III, 14-V, 7 

Ovid, Metamorphoses XI, 217-265; XII, 580-XIII, 398 

Ovid, Heroides III 

Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica IV, 783—879 

Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Inferno, V. 


• Ileana Chirassi Colombo, "Heroes Achilleus — Theos Apollon." In 77 Mito Greco, ed. Bruno Gentili & Giuseppe 
Paione, Rome, 1977; 

• Anthony Edwards: 

• "Achilles in the Underworld: Iliad, Odyssey, and jEthiopis", Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies, 26 (1985): 
pp. 215-227 ; 

• "Achilles in the Odyssey: Ideologies of Heroism in the Homeric Epic", Beitrage zur klassischen Philologie, 
171, Meisenheim, 1985; 

• "Kleos Aphthiton and Oral Theory," Classical Quarterly, 38 (1988): pp. 25—30; 

• Hedreen, Guy (1991). "The Cult of Achilles in the Euxine". Hesperia (American School of Classical Studies at 
Athens) 60 (3): 313-330. doi: 10.2307/148068. JSTOR 148068. 

• Kerenyi, Karl (1959). The Heroes of the Greeks. New York/London: Thames and Hudson. 

• Helene Monsacre, Les larmes d'Achille. he heros, lafemme et la souffrance dans la poesie d'Homere, Paris, Albin 
Michel, 1984 

• Gregory Nagy: 

• The Best of The Acheans: Concepts of the Hero in Archaic Greek Poetry, Johns Hopkins University, 1999 (rev. 

• The Name of Achilles: Questions of Etymology and Eolk Etymology' , Illinois Classical Studies, 19, 1994; 

• Dale S. Sinos, The Entry of Achilles into Greek Epic, Ph.D. thesis, Johns Hopkins University; 

• Jonathan S. Burgess, The Death and Afterlife of Achilles (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009). 

External links 

• Trojan War Resources ( 

• Dacia Preistorica, 1913, 1.4 ( Cult of 
Achilles: literary references to the island Leucos in Antiquity Nicolae Densusjanu 

• Gallery of the Ancient Art: Achilles ( htm?alt=Achilles& 




In Greek mythology, as recorded in Homer's Iliad, 
Patroclus, or Patroklos (Ancient Greek: 
ndtpoK^oi; Patroklos "glory of the father"), was the 
son of Menoetius, grandson of Actor, King of Opus, 
and was Achilles' beloved comrade and 

Patroclus' genealogy 

Menoetius was a member of the Argonauts in his 
youth. He had several marriages, and in different 
versions of the tale four different women are named as 
the mother of Patroclus. The Bibliotheca names three 
wives of Menoetius as possible mothers of Patroclus: 
Periopis, daughter of Pheres, founder of Pherae; 
Polymele, daughter of Peleus, King of Phthia and older 
half-sister of Achilles; and Sthenele, daughter of 
Acastus and Astydameia. Gaius Julius Hyginus names 
Philomela as Patroclus' mother. 

Menoetius was a son of Actor, King of Opus in Locris by Aegina. Aegina was a daughter of Asopus and mother of 
Aeacus by Zeus. Aeacus was father of Peleus, Telamon and Phocus. 

Actor was a son of Deioneus, King of Phocis and Diomede. His paternal grandparents were Aeolus of Thessaly and 
Enarete. His maternal grandparents were Xuthus and Creusa, daughter of Erechtheus and Praxithea. 

A cup depicting Achilles bandaging Patroklos' arm, by the Sosias 

Life before the Trojan War 

In his youth, Patroclus accidentally killed his friend, Clysonymus, during an argument over a game of dice. His 
father fled with Patroclus into exile to evade revenge, and they took shelter at the palace of their kinsman King 
Peleus of Phthia. There Patroclus apparently first met Peleus' son Achilles. Peleus sent the boys to live in the 
wilderness and be raised by Chiron, the cave-dwelling wise King of the Centaurs. 

Patroclus was somewhat older than Achilles {Iliad XI, 780-790). 

In a post-Homeric version, he is listed among the unsuccessful suitors of Helen of Sparta, all of whom took a solemn 
oath to defend the chosen husband against whoever should quarrel with him. At about that time Patroclus killed Las, 
founder of a namesake city near Gytheio, Laconia, according to Pausanias the geographer. Pausanias reported that 
the killing was alternatively attributed to Achilles. However Achilles was not otherwise said ever to have visited 



Trojan War activities 

The body of Patroclus is lifted by Menelaus and Meriones while Odysseus and 
others look on (Etruscan relief, 2nd century BC) 

When the tide of war turned away from the 
Acheans, and the Trojans threatened their 
ships, Patroclus convinced Achilles to let 
him don Achilles' armor and lead the 
Myrmidons into combat. In his lust for 
combat, Patroclus pursued the Trojans all 
the way back to the gates of Troy, defying 
Achilles' order to break off combat once the 
ships were saved. Patroclus killed many 
Trojans and allies including the Lycian hero 
Sarpedon (a son of Zeus), and Cebriones 
(the chariot driver of Hector and illegitimate 
son of Priam). Patroclus was stunned by 
Apollo, wounded by Euphorbos, then 
finished off by Hector. At the time of his 
death, Patroclus had killed 53 enemy 



After retrieving his body, which had been protected on the field by Odysseus and Ajax (Telamonian Aias), Achilles 
returned to battle and avenged his companion's death by killing Hector. Achilles then desecrated Hector's body by 
dragging it behind his chariot instead of allowing the Trojans to honorably dispose of it by burning it. Achilles' grief 
was great and for some time, he refused to dispose of Patroclus' body; but he was persuaded to do so by an apparition 
of Patroclus, who told Achilles he could not enter Hades without a proper cremation. Achilles sheared off his hair, 
and sacrificed horses, dogs, and twelve Trojan captives before placing Patroclus' body on the funeral pyre. 

Achilles then organized an athletic competition to honour his dead companion, which included a chariot race (won 
by Diomedes), boxing (won by Epeios), wrestling (a draw between Telamonian Aias and Odysseus), a foot race 
(won by Odysseus), a duel (a draw between Aias and Diomedes), a discus throw (won by Polypoites), an archery 
contest (won by Meriones), and a javelin throw (won by Agamemnon, unopposed). The games are described in Book 
23 of the Iliad, one of the earliest references to Greek sports. 

Relationship to Achilles 

In the Iliad, the relationship between Patroclus and Achilles is a vital part of the story. The relationship contributes to 
the overall theme of the humanization of Achilles. While the Iliad never explicitly stated as such, in later Greek 
writings, such as Plato's Symposium, the relationship between Patroclus and Achilles is held up as a model of 
romantic love. However, Xenophon in his Symposium, argued that it was inaccurate to label their relationship as 
romantic. Nevertheless, their relationship is said to have inspired Alexander the Great in his supposed romantic 
relationship with his close friend Hephaestion. 

Patroclus 290 

Burial and later reports 

The funeral of Patroclus is described in book 23 of the Iliad. Patroclus is cremated on a funeral pyre, and his bones 
are collected into a golden urn in two layers of fat. The barrow is built on the location of the pyre. Achilles then 
sponsors funeral games, consisting of a chariot race, boxing, wrestling, running, a duel between two champions to 
the first blood, discus throwing, archery and spear throwing. 

The death of Achilles is given in sources other than the Iliad. His bones were mingled with those of Patroclus so that 
the two would be companions in death as in life and the remains were transferred to Leuke, an island in the Black 
Sea. Their souls were reportedly seen wandering the island at times. 

In Homer's Odyssey, Odysseus meets Achilles in Hades, accompanied by Patroclus, Telamonian Aias and 

A general of Croton identified either as Autoleon or Leonymus reportedly visited the island of Leuke while 
recovering from wounds received in battle against the Locri Epizefiri. The event was placed during or after the 7th 
century BCE. He reported having seen Patroclus in the company of Achilles, Ajax the Lesser, Telamonian Aias, 
Antilochus, and Helen. 

Spoken-word myths - audio files 

Achilles and Patroclus myths as told by story tellers 

Bibliography of reconstruction: Homer Iliad, 9.308, 16.2, 1 1.780, 23.54 (700 BC); Pindar Olympian Odes, IX (476 BC); Aeschylus Myrmidons, 
F135-36 (495 BC); Euripides Iphigenia in Aulis, (405 BC); Plato Symposium, 179e (388 BC-367 BC); Statius Achilleid, 161, 174, 182 (96 CE) 

Modern sources 

• Evslin, Bernard (2006). Gods, demigods & demons. I. Tauris. 

• Michelakis, Pantelis (2007). Achilles in Greek Tragedy. Cambridge University Press. 

• Kerenyi, Karl (1959). The Heroes of the Greeks. New York/London: Thames and Hudson. pp 57—61 et passim 

• Sergent, Bernard (1986). Homosexuality in Greek Myth. Boston: Beacon Press. 


[1] Hyginus, Fabulae 114. 




In Greek mythology, Hector ("EKttop), or Hektor, was 
a Trojan prince and the greatest fighter for Troy in the 
Trojan War. As the first-born son of King Priam and 
Queen Hecuba, a descendant of Dardanus, who lived 
under Mount Ida, and of Tros, the founder of Troy, 
he was a prince of the royal house and the heir apparent 
to his father's throne. He was married to Andromache, 
with whom he had an infant son, Scamandrius (whom 
the people of Troy called Astyanax). He acts as leader 

of the Trojans and their allies in the defense of Troy, 

killing 31 Greek fighters in all. In the European 

Middle Ages, Hector figures as one of the Nine 

Worthies noted by Jacques de Longuyon, known not 

only for his courage but also for his noble and courtly 

nature. Indeed Homer places Hector as peace-loving, thoughtful as well as bold, a good son, husband and father, and 

without darker motives. When the Trojans are disputing whether the omens are favorable, he retorts: "One omen is 

best: defending the fatherland." 

Hector brought back to Troy. From a Roman sarcophagus of ca. 
180-200 AD. 


In Greek, Hektor is a derivative of the verb ekhein, archaic form hekhein, "to have" or "to hold". Hektor, or Ektor as 
found in Aeolic poetry, is also an epithet of Zeus in his capacity as "he who holds [everything together]". Hector's 
name could thus be taken to mean "holding fast' 

.. [3] 

Greek mythology 

Greatest warrior of Troy 

According to the Iliad, Hector did not approve of war between the 
Greeks and the Trojans. 

For ten years the Achaeans besieged Troy and their allies in the east. 
Hector commanded the Trojan army, with a number of subordinates 
including Polydamas, and his brothers Deiphobus, Helenus and Paris. 
However, by all accounts Hector was the best warrior the Trojans and 
all their allies could field, and his fighting prowess was admired by 
Greeks and his own people alike. 

Diomedes and Odysseus, when faced with his attack, described him as 
what Robert Fagles translated as an 'invincible headlong terror', and a 

r j&J |£ 



m A. \ ym 

Hector Admonishes Paris for His Softness and 

Exhorts Him to Go to War by J.H.W. Tischbein 


Duels with warriors 



Duel with Protesilaus 

In the Iliad, Hector's exploits in the war prior to the events of the book are recapitulated. He had fought the Greek 
champion Protesilaus in single combat at the start of the war and killed him. A prophecy had stated that the first 
Greek to land on Trojan soil would die. Protesilaus, Ajax and Odysseus thus would not land. Finally, Odysseus 
threw his shield out and landed on that, and Protesilaus jumped next from his own ship. In the ensuing fight, Hector 
killed him, fulfilling the prophecy. 

Duel with Ajax 

At the advice of his brother Helenus (who also is divinely inspired) and 
being told by him that he is not destined to die yet, Hector manages to 
get both armies seated and challenges any one of the Greek warriors to 
single combat. The Argives are initially reluctant to accept the 
challenge. However, after Nestor's chiding, nine Greek heroes step up 
to the challenge and draw by lot to see who is to face Hector. Ajax 
wins, and fights Hector to a stalemate for the entire day. With neither 
able to achieve victory, they express admiration for each other's 
courage, skill, and strength. Hector gives Ajax his sword, which Ajax 
will later use to kill himself. Ajax gives Hector his girdle, which will 
later be used to attach Hector's corpse to Achilles' chariot by which he 
is dragged around the walls of Troy. 

The Greek and the Trojans make a truce to bury the dead. In the early dawn the next day the Greeks take advantage 
of it to build a wall and ditch around the ships. Zeus is watching in a distance. 

Ajax and Hector exchange gifts (woodcut in 
Andreas Alciatus, Emblematum libellus, 1591) 

Duel with Achilles 

Another mention of Hector's exploits in the early years of war was given in the Iliad book 9. During the embassy to 
Achilles, Odysseus, Phoenix and Ajax all try to persuade Achilles to rejoin the fight. In his response, Achilles points 
out that while Hector was terrorizing the Greek forces now, while he himself had fought in their front lines, Hector 
had 'no wish' to take his force far beyond the walls and out from the Scaean Gate and nearby oak tree. He then 
claims, 'There he stood up to me alone one day, and he barely escaped my onslaught.' 

A 2004 film version of Troy has Achilles slaying Hector following a duel, whereas in the Iliad it is rather different. 
Hector remains outside the walls, while his army flees into the city. As Achilles approaches, Hector stands his 
ground, fights and dies upon looking up at Troy. The film version of his death more resembles the single combat 
between the champions mentioned by Achilles in the Iliad, book 9. 



In the tenth year of the war, observing Paris avoiding combat with 
Menelaus, Hector upbraids him with having brought trouble on his 
whole country and now refusing to fight. Paris therefore proposes 
single combat between himself and Menelaus, with Helen to go to the 
victor, ending the war. The duel, however, leads to inconclusive 
results due to intervention by Aphrodite who leads Paris off the field. 
After Pandarus wounds Menelaus with an arrow the fight begins again. 

The Greeks attack and drive the Trojans back. Hector must now go out 
to lead a counter-attack. His wife, Andromache, carrying in her arms 
their son Astyanax, intercepts him at the gate, pleading with him not to 
go out for her sake as well as his son's. Hector knows that Troy and the 
house of Priam are doomed to fall and that the gloomy fate of his wife 
and infant son will be to die or go into slavery in a foreign land. With 
understanding, compassion, and tenderness he explains that he cannot 

personally refuse to fight, and comforts her with the idea that no one 

rvi rxi 

can take him until it is his time to go. The gleaming bronze helmet frightens Astyanax and makes him cry. 

Hector takes it off, embraces his wife and son, and for her sake prays aloud to Zeus that his son might be chief after 

him and become more glorious in battle than he. 

Hector and Paris pass through the gate and rally the Trojans, raising havoc among the Greeks. 

Hector's last visit with his wife, Andromache, and 

infant son Astyanax, startled by his father's 

helmet (Apulian red-figure vase, 370—360 BC) 

Trojan counterattack 

Zeus weighs the fates of the two armies in the balance, and that of the Greeks sinks down. The Trojans press the 
Greeks into their camp over the ditch and wall and would have laid hands on the ships, but Agamemnon rallies the 
Greeks in person. The Trojans are driven off, night falls, and Hector resolves to take the camp and burn the ships 
next day. The Trojans bivouac in the field. 

"A thousand camp-fires gleamed upon the plain, ...". 

The next day Agamemnon rallies the Greeks and drives the Trojans 

"like a herd of cows maddened with fright when a lion has attacked them ... 

Hector refrains from battle until Agamemnon leaves the field, wounded in the arm by a spear. Then Hector rallies the 

" some fierce tempest that swoops down upon the sea...." 

Diomedes and Odysseus hinder Hector and win the Greeks some time to retreat, but the Trojans sweep down upon 
the wall and rain blows upon it. The Greeks in the camp contest the gates to secure entrance for their fleeing 
warriors. The Trojans try to pull down the ramparts while the Greeks rain arrows upon them. Hector smashes open a 
gate with a large stone, clears the gate and calls on the Trojans to scale the wall, which they do, and 

"... all was uproar and confusion." 



~=- "lUai ii.-.u# :.. si' ■■:■ y.\ W i "" ■"' U ■ 

The battle rages inside the camp. Hector goes 
down, hit by a stone thrown by Ajax, but Apollo 
arrives from Olympus and infuses strength into 
"the shepherd of the people", who orders a chariot 
attack, with Apollo clearing the way. Many 
combats, deaths, boasts, threats, epithets, figures of 
speech, stories, lines of poetry and books of the 
Iliad later, Hector lays hold of Protesilaus' ship and 
calls for fire. The Trojans cannot bring it to him, as 
Ajax kills everyone who tries. Eventually, Hector 
breaks Ajax' spear with his sword, forcing him to give ground, and he sets the ship on fire 

', " i mi -' ■■■• -e' ' " ■ -m . ,■ ' 

Battle at the ships, on a Roman-era sarcophagus, 225-250 AD. 


These events are all according to the will of the gods, who have decreed the fall of Troy, and therefore intend to 
tempt Achilles back into the war. Patroclus, Achilles' closest companion, disguised in the armor of Achilles, enters 
the combat leading the Myrmidons and the rest of the Achaeans to force a Trojan withdrawal. After Patroclus has 
routed the Trojan army, Hector, with the aid of Apollo and Euphorbus, kills Patroclus, vaunting over him: 

"I am foremost of all the Trojan warriors to stave the day of bondage from off them; as for you, vultures shall 
devour you here." 

The dying Patroclus replies: 

death and the day of your doom are close upon you. 

„ [13] 

Hector's last fight 

"Alas! the gods have lured me on to my destruction. ... death is now indeed exceedingly near at hand and there is no way out of it- for so Zeus 
and his son Apollo the far-darter have willed it, though heretofore they have been ever ready to protect me. My doom has come upon me; let 
me not then die ingloriously and without a struggle, but let me first do some great thing that shall be told among men hereafter. 

-Spoken by Hector facing Achilles, after a missed spear-throw, The Iliad Book XXII Lines 299-305. 

Hector strips the armor of Achilles off the fallen Patroclus and gives it to his men to take back to the city. Glaucus 
accuses Hector of cowardice for not challenging Ajax. Stung, Hector calls for the armor, puts it on and uses it to 
rally the Trojans. Zeus regards the donning of a hero's armor as an act of insolence by a fool about to die, but it 
makes him strong for now. 

The next day, the enraged Achilles renounces the wrath that kept him out of action and routs the Trojans back to the 
city. Hector chooses to remain outside the gates of Troy and face Achilles, partially because had he listened to 
Polydamas and retreated with his troops the previous night, Achilles would not have killed so many Trojans. 
However, when he sees Achilles he is seized by fear, and turns to flee, as Achilles gives chase to him three times 
around the city. Hector then masters his fear and turns to face Achilles. But Athena, in the disguise of Hector's 
brother Deiphobus, deluded Hector. He requests from Achilles that the victor would return the other's body after the 
duel, (though Hector himself made it clear he planned to throw Patroclus' body to the dogs) but Achilles refuses. 
Achilles hurls his spear at Hector, who dodges it, but Athena brought it back to Achilles' hands without Hector 
noticing. Hector then throws his spear at Achilles; it hits the shield but to no avail. When Hector turns to face his 
supposed brother to retrieve another spear he sees no one there. At that moment he realizes that he is doomed. Hector 
decides that he will go down fighting and that men will talk about his bravery in years to come; the desire to achieve 
ever-lasting honor was one of the most fierce for soldiers living in the timocratic (honor based) society of the age. 



Triumphant Achilles dragging Hector's lifeless body in front of the Gates 

of Troy. (From a panoramic fresco on the upper level of the main hall of 

the Achilleion) 

Hector pulls out his sword, now his only weapon, 
and charges. Achilles, knowing the weak spot of 
his old armor, which Hector now wears, is at the 
neck, stabs his spear through the armor into 
Hector's throat but misses the vocal cords. Hector, 
in his final moments, begs Achilles for an 
honorable burial. However, Achilles replies that he 
will let dogs and vultures devour Hector's flesh. 
(Throughout the Homeric poems, several 
references are made to dogs, vultures, and other 
creatures that devour the dead. It can be seen as 
another way of saying one will die.) Hector dies, 
prophesying that Achilles' death will follow soon. 

After his death, Achilles slits Hector's heels and passes the girdle that Ajax had given Hector through the slits of the 
heels. He then fastens the girdle to his chariot and drives his fallen enemy through the dust to the Danaan camp. For 
the next twelve days, Achilles mistreats the body, but it remains preserved from all injury by Apollo and Aphrodite. 
After these twelve days, the gods can no longer stand watching it and send down two messengers: Iris, another 
messenger god, and Thetis, mother to Achilles. Thetis has told Achilles to allow King Priam to come and take the 
body for ransom. Once King Priam has been notified that Achilles will allow him to claim the body, he goes to his 
safe to withdraw the ransom for Hector's body. The ransom King Priam offers included twelve fine robes, twelve 
white mantles, several richly embroidered tunics, ten bars of yellow gold, a special gold cup, and several cauldrons. 
King Priam himself soon comes to claim the body, and Hermes grants him safe passage by casting a charm that will 
make anyone who looks at him fall asleep. 


Think of thy father, and this helpless face 


See him in me, as helpless and as old! 

Though not so wretched: there he yields to me, 

The first of men in sovereign misery! 

Thus forced to kneel, thus groveling to embrace 

The scourge and ruin of my realm and race; 

Suppliant my children's murderer to implore, 

And kiss those hands yet reeking with their gore! 


-Spoken by Priam to Achilles, The Iliad Book XXIV, Pope's translation 

Achilles, moved by Priam's actions and following his mother's orders sent by Zeus, returns Hector's body, and 
promises Priam a truce of twelve days to allow the Trojans to perform funeral rites for Hector. Priam returns to Troy 
with the body of his son, and it is given full funeral honors. Even Helen mourns Hector, for he had always been kind 
to her and protected her from spite. The last lines of the Iliad are dedicated to Hector's funeral. Homer concludes by 
referring to the Trojan prince as the "tamer of horses." 

Historical references 

There is little direct evidence of the historical existence of Homeric heroes; i.e., no inscriptions, signatures, 
eye-witness accounts, etc. Theories about them have to rely on a preponderance of other evidence, which alone are 
not solid enough to warrant much conclusiveness. The most valuable evidence, if relevant, are the treaties and letters 
mentioned in Hittite cuneiform texts of the same approximate era, which mention an unruly Western Anatolian 
warlord named Piyama-Radu (possibly Priam) and his successor Alaksandu (possibly Alexander, the nickname of 
Paris) both based in Wilusa (possibly Ilion/Ilios), as well as the god Apaliunas (possibly Apollo). 



Other such pieces of quasi-evidence are names of Trojan heroes in Linear B tablets. Twenty out of fifty-eight men's 
names also known from Homer, including e-ko-to (Hector), are Trojan warriors and some, including Hector, are in a 
servile capacity. No such conclusion that they are the offspring of Trojan captive women is warranted. Generally 

the public has to be content with the knowledge that these names existed in Greek in Mycenaean times, although 

Page hypothesizes that Hector "may very well be ... a familiar Greek form impressed on a similar-sounding 

foreign name." 

When Pausanias visited Thebes in Boeotia, in the second century AD, he was shown Hector's tomb and was told that 

n ri 
the bones had been transported to Thebes according to a Delphic oracle. Moses I. Finley observes "this typical bit 

of fiction must mean that there was an old Theban hero Hector, a Greek, whose myths antedated the Homeric poems. 

Even after Homer had located Hector in Troy for all time, the Thebans held on to their hero, and the Delphic oracle 

provided the necessary sanction." 

Later treatments 


• In Dante Alighieri's Inferno (which is part of the Divine Comedy 
series), Hector and his family are placed in Limbo, the outer circle 
wherein the virtuous non-Christians dwell. 

• Roland's sword in early 12th century French poem Song of Roland, 
was named Durendal. According to Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando 
Furioso it once belonged to Hector of Troy, and was given to 
Roland by Malagigi (Maugris). 

• In William Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, Hector's death is 
used to mark the conclusion of the play. His nobility is shown in 
stark contrast to the deceit and pridefulness of the Greeks, 
especially Achilles. 

• In David Gemmell's Troy trilogy Hektor is seen as a man of peace 
and would rather breed his horses than go to war but is forced by 
King Priam to fight for the Hittite empire against the Egytians at the 
Battle of Kadesh and other conflicts. In Fall of Kings Hektor kills 
Patrokles while attacking a supply wagon. Achilles challenges 
Hektor to a duel through Odyseus. Hektor accepts but only so the 

women and children of Troy could get on ship's to Kypros. They fight in a specially designed pit dug especially 
for the duel. Hektor and Achilles are equally matched but both their swords are poisoned by Agamemnon's priest. 
Both warriors died fighting back to back against Agamemnon's followers. Achilles' Myrmidons carry Hektor back 
to Troy and Achilles back to their camp and the next morning head back to Thessaly. 

• In Michael Longley's poem 'Ceasefire', Priam's petition to Achilles for the return of Hector's body is used as an 
analogue for the necessity for opposing sides to make conciliatory gestures, however difficult, to bring about 
peace in Northern Ireland. The poem ends with Priam's declaration, I get down on my knees and do what must be 
done/ And kiss Achilles' hand, the killer of my son.' 

The Grief and Recriminations of Andromache 

over the Body of Hector Her Husband (1783) by 

Jacques-Louis David 

Hector 297 

Film and television 

Hector has been portrayed by a variety of actors in numerous films, including the following: 

• Harry Andrews in Helen of Troy (1956) 

• Jacques Bergerac in The Fury of Achilles (1962) 

• Daniel Lapaine in Helen of Troy (2003) 

• Eric Bana in Troy (2004) 

• Hector is the name of the cyborg robot in the science fiction movie Saturn 3 (1980); actor Kirk Douglas mentions 
the Greek myth of Hector after a violent encounter with the robot. 

• Is mentioned in the movie Gladiator by Commodus who says, "Your fame is well deserved Spaniard. I don't think 
there's ever been a gladiator to match you. As for this young man (motioning to Lucius), he insists that you are 
Hector reborn... (now speaking to Lucius) or was it Hercules?" 


• Hector is given his heraldry of a seated lion holding a sword in the Enfances Hector of the early 14th century. 

• Hector is commemorated as the face of the Jack of diamonds in French playing cards. 


[I] ffiatfXX.215ff. 

[2] Hyginus, Fabulae 115. 

[3] This etymology is given under Hector (http://www.etymonline. com/index. php?search=hector&searchmode=none) in the Online 

Etymological Dictionary, which, if true, would make it an Indo-European name, of root *segh- ( 

html). The Dardanians would not have been Greek, but the language of the city of Troy is still an open question. 
[4] Iliad, VII. 
[5] «(WVII.433ff) 
[6] Iliad HI. 
[7] Iliad 'VI. 
[8] This Trojan helmet was made famous by Denys Page in History and the Homeric Iliad, Chapter VI, "Some Mycenaean relics in the Iliad", as 

the Greeks do not wear bronze helmets in the poem's epic formulae, but they did in the Homeric Age; therefore, Page concludes (on other 

evidence as well) that the bronze helmet of Hector descends in oral poetry from Mycenaean times. 
[9] Iliad VIII.542ff. 
[10] Iliad, XI.163ff. 

[II] Iliad XII. 
[12] Iliad, XV end. 
[13] Iliad XVI end. 
[14] Iliad XVII. 

[15] Bibliotheca III, xii, 5-6; Epitome IV, 2. 

[16] John Chadwick, in Ventris and Chadwick, Documents in Mycenaean Greek, 2nd edition, Cambridge, 1973, p. 104. 

[17] Page History and the Homeric Iliad, Chapter V. 

[18] Finley, The World of Odysseus, 1954, rev. ed. 1978) p. 44 

External links 

• © "Hector". Encyclopedia Americana. 1920. 




Paris (Ancient Greek: napu;; also known as Alexander or 
Alexandros, c.f. Alaksandu of Wilusa), the son of Priam, king of 
Troy, appears in a number of Greek legends. Probably the 
best-known was his elopement with Helen, queen of Sparta, this 
being one of the immediate causes of the Trojan War. Later in the 
war, he fatally wounds Achilles in the heel with an arrow, as 
foretold by Achilles's mother, Thetis. 

Paris's childhood 

Paris was a child of Priam and Hecuba (see List of King Priam's 

children). Just before his birth, his mother dreamed that she gave 

birth to a flaming torch. This dream was interpreted by the seer 

Aesacus as a foretelling of the downfall of Troy, and he declared 

that the child would be the ruin of his homeland. On the day of 

Paris's birth it was further announced by Aesacus that the child 

born of a royal Trojan that day would have to be killed to spare the 

kingdom, being the child that would bring about the prophecy. 

Though Paris was indeed born before nightfall, he was spared by 

Priam; Hecuba, too, was unable to kill the child, despite the urging 

of the priestess of Apollo, one Herophile. Instead, Paris's father 

prevailed upon his chief herdsman, Agelaus, to remove the child 

and kill him. The herdsman, unable to use a weapon against the 

infant, left him exposed on Mount Ida, hoping he would perish 

there (cf: Oedipus); he was, however, suckled by a she-bear. 

Returning after nine days, Agelaus was astonished to find the child still alive, and brought him home in a backpack 

(jnjga, hence Paris's name, which means "backpack") to rear as his own. He returned to Priam bearing a dog's tongue 

as evidence of the deed's completion 

Prince Paris with apple by H.W. Bissen, Ny Carlsberg 
Glyptotek, Copenhagen 


Paris's noble birth was betrayed by his outstanding beauty and intelligence; while still a child he routed a gang of 
cattle-thieves and restored the animals they had stolen to the herd, thereby earning the surname Alexander 
("protector of men"). It was at this time that Oenone became Paris's first lover. She was a nymph from Mount Ida 
in Phrygia. Her father was Cebren, a river-god (other sources declare her to be the daughter of Oeneus). She was 
skilled in the arts of prophecy and medicine, which she had been taught by Rhea and Apollo respectively. When 
Paris later left her for Helen she told him that if he ever was wounded, he should come to her for she could heal any 
injury, even the most serious wounds. 

Paris's chief distraction at this time was to pit Agelaus's bulls against one another. One bull began to win these bouts 
consistently, and Paris began to set it against rival herdsmen's own prize bulls; it defeated them all. Finally Paris 
offered a golden crown to any bull that could defeat his champion. Ares responded to this challenge by transforming 
himself into a bull and easily winning the contest. Paris gave the crown to Ares without hesitation; it was this 
apparent honesty in judgment that prompted the gods of Olympus to have Paris arbitrate the divine contest between 
Hera, Aphrodite, and Athena. 



The Judgment of Paris 

El Juicio de Paris by Enrique Simonet, ca. 1904. Paris is studying Aphrodite, who is 
standing before him naked. The other two goddesses watch nearby. 

In celebration of the marriage of 
Peleus and Thetis, Lord Zeus, father of 
the Greek pantheon, hosted a banquet 
on Mount Olympus. Every deity and 
demi-god had been invited, except 
Eris, the goddess of strife (no one 
wanted a troublemaker at a wedding). 
For revenge, Eris threw the golden 
Apple of Discord inscribed with the 
word "Kallisti" — "For the fairest" — 
into the party, provoking a squabble 
among the attendant goddesses over 
for whom it had been meant. 

The goddesses thought to be the most 
beautiful were Hera, Athena, and 
Aphrodite, and each one claimed the 
apple. They started a quarrel so they 
asked Zeus to choose one of them. 
Knowing that choosing any of them 
would bring him the hatred of the other 
two, Zeus did not want to take part in 
the decision. He thus appointed Paris 
to select the most beautiful. Escorted 
by Hermes, the three goddesses bathed 
in the spring of Mount Ida and 
approached Paris as he herded his 
cattle. Paris, having been given 
permission by Zeus to set any 
conditions he saw fit, required that the 
goddesses disrobe and allow him to see 

them naked 


(Another version of the 
myth says that the goddesses 
themselves chose to undress to show 
all their beauty.) Still, Paris could not 
decide, as all three were ideally 
beautiful, so the goddesses attempted 
to bribe him to choose among them - 
Hera offered ownership of all of 
Europe and Asia; Athena offered skill 

in battle, wisdom and the abilities of the greatest warriors; and Aphrodite offered the love of the most beautiful 

woman on Earth, Helen of Sparta. Paris chose Aphrodite — and, therefore, Helen. 

Judgement of Paris, porcelain, Capitoline Museums, Rome 



Helen was already married to King 

Menelaus of Sparta (a fact Aphrodite 

neglected to mention), so Paris had to 

raid Menelaus's house to steal Helen 

from him (according to some accounts, 

she fell in love with Paris and left 

willingly). The Greeks' expedition to 

retrieve Helen from Paris in Troy is the 

mythological basis of the Trojan War. 

This triggered the war because Helen 

was famous for her beauty throughout 

Achaea (ancient Greece), and had 

many suitors of extraordinary ability. 

Therefore, following Odysseus's 

advice, her father Tyndareus made all 

suitors promise to defend Helen's 

marriage to the man he chose for her. 

When she disappeared to Troy, 

Menelaus invoked this oath. Helen's other suitors — who between them represented the lion's share of Achaea's 

strength, wealth and military prowess — were obligated to help bring her back. Thus, the whole of Greece moved 

against Troy in force. The Trojan War had begun. 

This is a fresco of Paris abducting Helen by force. It is painted on a wall inside a villa in 

Venice, Italy. 

Paris and the Trojan War 

Homer's Iliad casts Paris as unskilled and cowardly. His brother Hector 
scolds and belittles him, though Paris readily admits his 
shortcomings in battle. His preference for bow and arrow emphasizes 
this, since he does not follow the code of honor shared by the other 
heroes. After slaying Hector and other heroes, Achilles dies by an 
arrow. By some accounts, the archer is Paris with Apollo's help; by 
others it is Apollo disguised as Paris. 

Early in the epic, Paris and Menelaus duel in an attempt to end the war 
without further bloodshed. Menelaus easily defeats Paris, though 
Aphrodite spirits him away before Menelaus can finish the duel. Paris 
is returned to his bedchambers where Aphrodite forces Helen to be 
with him. 

Paris's second attempt at combat is equally faced: rather than engage 
the Greek hero Diomedes in melee combat, Paris wounds Diomedes 
with an arrow through the foot. 

Later in the war, after Philoctetes mortally wounds Paris, Helen makes 
her way to Mount Ida where she begs Paris's first wife, the nymph 
Oenone, to heal him. Still bitter that Paris had spurned her for his 
birthright in the city and then forgotten her for Helen, Oenone refuses. 
Helen returns alone to Troy, where Paris dies later the same day. In 

I M 

r m 


Statue of Paris in the British Museum 

Paris 30l_ 

another version, Paris himself, in great pain, visits Oenone to plead for healing but is refused and dies on the 
mountainside. When Oenone hears of his funeral, she runs to his funeral pyre and throws herself in its fire. 

After Paris's death, his brother Deiphobus married Helen and was then murdered by Menelaus in the sack of Troy. 

Later treatments 

• Jacques Offenbach, Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halevy's 1864 operetta La Belle Helene tells a droll version of 
the seduction of Helen by Paris, who is the lead male role. 

• In the 1956 film Helen of Troy, Paris, as the main character, is portrayed as a heroic character who at first 
worships peace and love but is later forced to take up arms against the treacherous Greeks. 

• In the 1961 film Trojan Horse, Paris is played by Warner Bentivegna. 

• In the 1962 film The Fury of Achilles, Paris is played by Roberto Risso. 

• The Judgment of Paris and its aftermath are the subject of Michael Tippett's 1962 opera King Priam. 

• In the 2003 TV miniseries Helen of Troy, the character Paris, played by actor Matthew Marsden, is killed by 

• In the 2004 Hollywood film Troy, the character Paris was played by actor Orlando Bloom. He is not killed by 
Philoctetes in this version, but leaves the falling city of Troy together with Helen and survives. Paris is portrayed 
as an irresponsible prince who put his romance before his family and country. 

• In prose he appears as the main character in Rudolf Hagelstange's book Spielball der Gotter (Game of Gods). 

• The song "The Third Temptation of Paris" by Alesana tells the story of Helen and Paris from the viewpoint of 

• The story was also made into a musical, Paris Prince of Troy, written by Jon English and David Mackay. Barry 
Humphries starred in the original performance as Sinon. 

• The song, Crimes of Paris by Elvis Costello on his album Blood and Chocolate asks the question, "Who'll pay for 
the Crimes of Paris, who's gonna pay for the Crimes of Paris?" 

• In Aaron Allston's Galatea in 2-D, a painting of Paris, brought to life, is used against a painting of Achilles 
brought to life. 

Notes and references 

[1] For a comparison of hero births, including Sargon, Moses, Karna, Oedipus, Paris, Telephus, Perseus, Romulus, Gilgamesh, Cyrus, Jesus, and 

others, see: Rank, Otto. The Myth of the Birth of the Hero. Vintage Books: New York, 1932. 
[3] Neil Phillip. Myths and Legends. Dorling Kindersley. 
[4] e.g., Iliad, bk. 3, lines 38-57. 
[5] Iliad, bk. 3, lines 340-419. 
[6] Way, A.S. (Ed. & Trans.): "Quintus Smyrnaeus: The Fall of Troy" bk. 10, 259-489 (Loeb Classics #19; Harvard University Press, Cambridge 

MA, 19 13). html 

External links 

• The Judgement of Paris' by William Etty ( 
displaypicture.asp?venue=7&id=136) at the Lady Lever Art Gallery ( 
ladyle ver/index. asp) 





In Greek mythology, Menelaus (Ancient Greek: MeveXaoc,, Menelaos) 
was a legendary king of Mycenaean (pre-Dorian) Sparta, the husband 
of Helen of Troy, and a central figure in the Trojan War. He was the 
son of Atreus and Aerope, and brother of Agamemnon king of 
Mycenae and, according to the Iliad, leader of the Spartan contingent 
of the Greek army during the War. Prominent in both the Iliad and 
Odyssey, Menelaus was also popular in Greek vase painting and Greek 
tragedy; the latter more as a hero of the Trojan War than as a member 
of the doomed House of Atreus. 

Ascension and reign 

Although early authors such as Aeschylus refer in passing to Menelaus' 

early life, detailed sources are quite late, post-dating 5th-century BC Greek tragedy. L1J According to these sources, 
Menelaus' father Atreus had been feuding with his brother Thyestes over the throne of Mycenae. After a 
back-and-forth struggle that featured adultery, incest and cannibalism, Thyestes gained the throne after his son 
Aegisthus murdered Atreus. As a result, Atreus' sons, Menelaus and Agamemnon, went into exile. They first stayed 
with King Polyphides of Sicyon, and later with King Oeneus of Calydon. But when they thought the time was ripe to 
dethrone Mycenae's hostile ruler, they returned. Assisted by King Tyndareus of Sparta, they drove Thyestes away, 
and Agamemnon took the throne for himself. 

When it was time for Tyndareus' step-daughter Helen to marry, many Greek kings and princes came to seek her 
hand, or sent emissaries to do so on their behalf. Among the contenders were Odysseus, Menestheus, Ajax the Great, 
Patroclus, and Idomeneus. Most offered opulent gifts to win Tyndareus' favor. But Tyndareus would accept none of 
the gifts, nor would he send any of the suitors away for fear of offending them and giving grounds for a quarrel. 
Odysseus promised to solve the problem in a satisfactory manner if Tyndareus would support him in his courting of 
Tyndareus' niece Penelope, the daughter of Icarius. Tyndareus readily agreed, and Odysseus proposed that, before 
the decision was made, all the suitors should swear a most solemn oath to defend the chosen husband in any quarrel. 
Then it was decreed that straws were to be drawn for Helen's hand. The suitor who won was Menelaus (Tyndareus, 
not to displease the powerful Agamemnon offered him another daughter Clytaemnestra). The rest of the Greek 
kings swore their oaths, and Helen and Menelaus were married, Menelaus becoming a ruler of Sparta with Helen 
after Tyndareus and Leda either died or abdicated the thrones. Menelaus and Helen had a daughter, Hermione as 
supported, for example, by Sappho and some variations of the myth suggest they had two sons as well. 

Their palace (avaKtopov) has been discovered (the excavations started in 1926 and continued until 1995) in Pellana, 
Laconia, to the north-west of modern (and classical) Sparta. Other archaeologists consider that Pellana is too far 
away from other Mycenaean centres to have been the "capital of Menelaus 




Trojan War 

Menelaus regains Helen, detail of an Attic 

red-figure crater, ca. 450—440 BC, found in 

Gnathia (now Egnazia, Italy). 

In a return for awarding her a golden apple inscribed "to the fairest," 
Aphrodite promised Paris the most beautiful woman in all the world. 
After concluding a diplomatic mission to Sparta during the latter part 
of which Menelaus was absent to attend the funeral of his maternal 
grandfather Catreus, Paris absconded to Troy with Helen in tow 
despite his brother Hector forbidding her to depart with them. Invoking 
the oath of Tyndareus, Menelaus and Agamemnon raised a fleet of one 
thousand ships according to legend and went to Troy to secure Helen's 
return; the Trojans were recalcitrant, providing a casus belli for the 
Trojan War. Indeed, his name is interpreted in Greek as "Mfjvu; Aaofi" 
(Wrath of the People) fitting his 'historing" role in the epics or "Mevoq 
Aaoij" (Force/Impetus of the People). 


Homer's Iliad is the most expansive source for Menelaus' exploits 
during the Trojan War. In Book 3, Menelaus challenges Paris to a duel 
for Helen's return. Menelaus soundly beats Paris, but before he can kill him and claim victory Aphrodite spirits Paris 
away inside the walls of Troy. In Book 4, while the Greeks and Trojans squabble over the duel's winner, Athena 
inspires the Trojan Pandarus to kill Menelaus with his bow and arrow. Menelaus is wounded in the abdomen, and the 
fighting resumes. Later, in Book 17, Homer gives Menelaus an extended aristeia as the hero retrieves the corpse of 
Patroclus from the battlefield. 

According to Hyginus, Menelaus killed eight men in the war, and was one of the Greeks hidden inside the Trojan 
Horse. During the sack of Troy, Menelaus killed Deiphobus, who had married Helen after the death of Paris. 

There are three versions of Menelaus' and Helen's reunion on the night of the sack of Troy: a) Menelaus resolved to 
kill Helen but Euripides tells us that, when he found her, her striking beauty prompted him to drop his sword and 
take her back to his ship to punish her at Sparta , as he claimed, but in reality she got away with it. b) According 
to the Bibliotheca Epitome and Proclus in "Ilion's Conquest", Menelaus raised his sword in front of the temple of 
Minerva in the central square of Troy to kill her but his wrath went away when he saw her tearing her clothes to 
reveal her breasts, c) A similar version by Stesichorus in "Ilion's Conquest" narrated that Menelaus surrendered her 
indeed to his soldiers to stone her to death; however, when she ripped the front of her robes, the Achaean warriors 
got stunned by her beauty and the stones fell harmlessly from their hands. 

After the war 

Book 4 of the Odyssey provides an account of Menelaus' return from Troy and his homelife in Sparta. When visited 
by Odysseus' son Telemachus, Menelaus recounts his voyage home. As happened to many Greeks, Menelaus' ship 
was blown off course. While stranded in Egypt, Menelaus learned from Proteus how he could return home. After 
their homecoming, Menelaus and Helen's marriage is strained; Menelaus continually revisits the human cost of the 
Trojan War, particularly in light of the fact that Helen could not provide him a male heir. According to Euripides' 

Helen, after Menelaus dies, he is reunited with Helen on the Isle of the Blessed 


Menelaus 304 

Menelaus in vase painting 

Menelaus appears in Greek vase painting in the 6th to 4th centuries BC, such as: Menelaus' reception of Paris at 
Sparta; his retrieval of Patroclus' corpse; and his reunion with Helen. 

Menelaus in Greek tragedy 

Menelaus appears as a character in a number of 5th-century Greek tragedies: Sophocles' Ajax, and Euripides' 
Andromache, Helen, Orestes, Iphigenia at Aulis, and The Trojan Women. 

Menelaus in other media 

• Menelaus is portrayed by Niall MacGinnis in the 1956 film Helen of Troy. 

• Patrick Magee portrayed Menelaus in the 1971 film of The Trojan Women. 

• In the Coen Brothers' O Brother, Where Art Thou?, which is loosely based on Homer's Odyssey, Academy Award 
nominated actor Charles Durning plays Governor Menelaus 'Pappy' O'Daniel. 

• In James Callis's revisionist 2003 miniseries Helen of Troy, Menelaus is encouraged to fight the Trojan War by 
his brother Agamemnon instead of by Helen's infidelity or the resulting slight to his honor. 

• Menelaus also appears in the 2004 film Troy, portrayed by Brendan Gleeson. Like the 1957 film that influenced 
it, Menelaus is portrayed as a brutish king out for revenge. He duels Paris and wins, but Paris retreats to his 
brother, Hector. When Menelaus wants to strike the finishing blow, Hector kills him to protect his brother. 

• Menelaus is a character in John Barth's short story, "Menelaiad" which is part of Lost in the Funhouse. 


[I] Our chief sources for Menelaus' life before the Trojan War are Hyginus' Fabulae and the Epitome of the Bibliotheca. 

[3] Sappho, fr. 16. See an analysis of the poem by Gumpert, Grafting Helen, 92 


[5] Mee & Spawforth (2001), o. 229 

[6] See the Judgment of Paris. 


[8] 147 

[9] Andromache 629-31. 

[10] Line 1675. 

[II] Woodford 1993. 




In Greek mythology, Agamemnon (English pronunciation: /sege'memDn/; 
Ancient Greek: Ayauiu/vcov; modern Greek: Aya|ji|ivova<;, "very 
steadfast") was the son of King Atreus and Queen Aerope of Mycenae, 
the brother of Menelaus, the husband of Clytemnestra, and the father of 
Electra and Orestes. Mythical legends make him the king of Mycenae 
or Argos, thought to be different names for the same area. When 
Helen, the wife of Menelaus, was abducted by Paris of Troy, 
Agamemnon commanded the united Greek armed forces in the ensuing 
Trojan War. 

On Agamemnon's return from Troy he was murdered (according to the 
fullest version of the oldest surviving account, Odyssey 11.409—11) by 
Aegisthus, the lover of his wife Clytemnestra. In old versions of the 
story: "The scene of the murder, when it is specified, is usually the 
house of Aegisthus, who has not taken up residence in Agamemnon's 
palace, and it involves an ambush and the deaths of Agamemnon's 




T ' ^ ' 

\ JH 

The "Mask of Agamemnon" which was 

discovered by Heinrich Schliemann in 1876 at 

Mycenae (whether it represents an individual, and 

if so, whom, remains unknown) 

followers too 

« [l] 

In some later versions Clytemnestra herself does the killing, or they do it together, in his own 

Historical prototype 

Hittite sources mention Akagamunas, ruler of Ahhiyawa (land of Achaeans) in the 14th century BC. 

This is a possible prototype of the Agamemnon of mythology. 

Early life 

Atreus, Agamemnon's father, murdered the children of his twin brother Thyestes and fed them to him after 
discovering Thyestes' adultery with his wife Aerope. Thyestes fathered Aegisthus with his own daughter, Pelopia, 
and this son vowed gruesome revenge on Atreus' children. Aegisthus successfully murdered Atreus and restored his 
father to the throne. Aegisthus took possession of the throne of Mycenae and ruled jointly with Thyestes. During this 
period Agamemnon and his brother, Menelaus, took refuge with Tyndareus, King of Sparta. There they respectively 
married Tyndareus' daughters Clytemnestra and Helen. Agamemnon and Clytemnestra had four children: one son, 
Orestes, and three daughters, Iphigenia, Electra and Chrysothemis. Menelaus succeeded Tyndareus in Sparta, while 
Agamemnon, with his brother's assistance, drove out Aegisthus and Thyestes to recover his father's kingdom. He 
extended his dominion by conquest and became the most powerful prince in Greece. 

Agamemnon's family history had been marred by rape, murder, incest, and treachery, consequences of the heinous 
crime perpetrated by his ancestor, Tantalus, and then of a curse placed upon Pelops, son of Tantalus, by Myrtilus, 
whom he had murdered. Thus misfortune hounded successive generations of the House of Atreus, until atoned by 
Orestes in a court of justice held jointly by humans and gods. 



Trojan War 

Agamemnon gathered the reluctant Greek forces to sail for Troy. Preparing to depart from Aulis, which was a port in 
Boeotia, Agamemnon's army incurred the wrath of the goddess Artemis. There are several reasons throughout myth 
for such wrath: in Aeschylus' play Agamemnon, Artemis is angry for the young men who will die at Troy, whereas in 
Sophocles' Electra, Agamemnon has slain an animal sacred to Artemis, and subsequently boasted that he was 
Artemis' equal in hunting. Misfortunes, including a plague and a lack of wind, prevented the army from sailing. 
Finally, the prophet Calchas announced that the wrath of the goddess could only be propitiated by the sacrifice of 
Agamemnon's daughter Iphigenia. Classical dramatisations differ on how willing either father or daughter were to 
this fate, some include such trickery as claiming she was to be married to Achilles, but Agamemnon did eventually 
sacrifice Iphigenia. Her death appeased Artemis, and the Greek army set out for Troy. Several alternatives to the 
human sacrifice have been presented in Greek mythology. Other sources, such as Iphigenia at Aulis, claim that 
Agamemnon was prepared to kill his daughter, but that Artemis accepted a deer in her place, and whisked her away 
to Taurus in Crimea. Hesiod said she became the goddess Hecate. 

Agamemnon was the commander-in-chief of the Greeks during the Trojan War. During the fighting, Agamemnon 
killed Antiphus and 15 other Trojan soldiers. Agamemnon's teamster, Halaesus, later fought with Aeneas in Italy. 
The Iliad tells the story of the quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles in the final year of the war. Agamemnon 
took an attractive slave, Briseis, one of the spoils of war, from Achilles. Achilles, the greatest warrior of the age, 
withdrew from battle in revenge and nearly cost the Greek armies the war. 

Although not the equal of Achilles in bravery, Agamemnon was a representative of kingly authority. As 
commander-in-chief, he summoned the princes to the council and led the army in battle. He took the field himself, 
and performed many heroic deeds until he was wounded and forced to withdraw to his tent. His chief fault was his 
overwhelming haughtiness; an over-exalted opinion of his position that led him to insult Chryses and Achilles, 
thereby bringing great disaster upon the Greeks. 

After the capture of Troy, Cassandra, doomed prophetess and daughter of Priam, fell to Agamemnon's lot in the 
distribution of the prizes of war. 

Return to Greece 

Orestes slaying Aegisthus 

After a stormy voyage, Agamemnon and Cassandra either 
landed in Argolis, or were blown off course and landed in 
Aegisthus' country. Clytemnestra, Agamemnon's wife, had 
taken Aegisthus, son of Thyestes, as a lover. When 
Agamemnon came home he was slain by either Aegisthus (in 
the oldest versions of the story) or Clytemnestra. According 
to the accounts given by Pindar and the tragedians, 
Agamemnon was slain in a bath by his wife alone, a blanket 
of cloth or a net having first been thrown over him to prevent 
resistance. Clytemnestra also killed Cassandra. Her jealousy 
of Cassandra, and her wrath at the sacrifice of Iphigenia and 
at Agamemnon's having gone to war over Helen of Troy, are 
said to have been the motives for her crime. Aegisthus and 
Clytemnestra then ruled Agamemnon's kingdom for a time, 
Aegisthus claiming his right of revenge for Agamemnon's 
father Atreus having fed Thyestes his own children (Thyestes 



then crying out "So perish all the race of Pleisthenes!", thus explaining Aegisthus' action as justified by his father's 
curse). Agamemnon's son Orestes later avenged his father's murder, with the help or encouragement of his sister 
Electra, by murdering Aegisthus and Clytemnestra (his own mother), thereby inciting the wrath of the Erinyes 
(English: the Furies), winged goddesses who tracked down egregiously impious wrongdoers with their hounds' noses 
and drove them to insanity. 




















Genealogy of Agamemnon 

Other stories 

Athenaeus tells a story of how Agamemnon mourned the loss of his friend Argynnus, when he drowned in the 
Cephisus river. He buried him, honored with a tomb and a shrine to Aphrodite Argynnis. This episode is also 


found in Clement of Alexandria, in Stephen of Byzantium (Kopai and Argunnos), and in Propertius, in with minor 

• t - [9] 

The fortunes of Agamemnon have formed the subject of numerous tragedies, ancient and modern, the most famous 
being the Oresteia of Aeschylus. In the legends of the Peloponnesus, Agamemnon was regarded as the highest type 
of a powerful monarch, and in Sparta he was worshipped under the title of Zeus Agamemnon. His tomb was pointed 
out among the ruins of Mycenae and at Amyclae. 

Another account makes him the son of Pleisthenes (the son or father of Atreus), who is said to have been Aerope's 
first husband. 

In works of art there is considerable resemblance between the representations of Zeus, king of the gods, and 
Agamemnon, king of men. He is generally depicted with a sceptre and diadem, conventional attributes of kings. 

Agamemnon's mare was named Aetha. She was also one of two horses driven by Menelaus at the funeral games of 



Agamemnon 308 


[I] Aeschylus (1986) Choephori; introduction by A. F. Garvie, Oxford U. P., p. x 

[2] Steiner, Gerd. The Case of Wilusa and Ahhiyawa ( 

Bibliotheca Orientalis; LXIV No. 5-6, September— December 2007 
[3] Ebeling, Erich; Meissner, Bruno; Edzard, Dietz Otto (1993). Reallexikon der Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Archdologie: A - Bepaste 

(,Ml). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. 

p. 57. ISBN3-11-004451-X. . 
[4] Hyginus, "Fabulae" 1 14. 
[5] Aeschylus, Aga., In. 1602 
[6] Lewis, Charlton T.; Short, Charles. "Argynnus" (http://www. perseus. tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999.04. 

0059:entry=Argynnus). A Latin Dictionary. Perseus Project. . Retrieved 16 September 201 1. 
[7] The Deipnosophists of Athenaeus of Naucratis, Book XIII Concerning Women, 80D (p. 603) 
[8] Protrepticus II.38.2 

[9] Butler, Harold Edgeworth & Barber, Eric Arthur, eds. (1933) The Elegies of Propertius. Oxford: Clarendon Press; p. 277 
[10] Pausanias. Description of Greece; 5.8.3 

[II] Plutarch. Amores, 21 

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). 
Encyclopedia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

Primary sources 

• Homer, Iliad; 

• Euripides, Electra; 

• Sophocles, Electra; 

• Seneca, Agamemnon 

• Aeschylus, The Libation Bearers; 

• Homer, Odyssey I, 28-31; XI, 385-464; 

• Aeschylus, Agamemnon 

• Apollodorus, Epitome, II, 15-111, 22; VI, 23. 




"Aias" redirects here. For other uses of this name, see AIAS 
(disambiguation) and Ajax (disambiguation). 

Ajax or Aias (/'eld3aeks/ or /'; Ancient Greek: Aiai;, gen. 
AiavTO<;) was a mythological Greek hero, the son of Telamon and 
Periboea, and king of Salamis. He plays an important role in Homer's 
Iliad and in the Epic Cycle, a series of epic poems about the Trojan 
War. To distinguish him from Ajax, son of Oileus (Ajax the Lesser), he 
is called "Telamonian Ajax," "Greater Ajax," or "Ajax the Great". 
In Etruscan mythology, he is known as Aivas Tlamunus. 


Achilles and Ajax play a board game with 

knucklebones on this late 6th-century lekythos, a 

type of oil-storing vessel associated with funeral 


Ajax is the son of Telamon, who was the son of Aeacus and grandson 

of Zeus, and his first wife Periboea. He is the cousin of Achilles, the 

most remembered Greek warrior, and is the elder half-brother of 

Teucer. Many illustrious Athenians, including Cimon, Miltiades, 

Alcibiades and the historian Thucydides, traced their descent from Ajax. The Italian scholar Maggiani recently 

showed that on an Etruscan tomb dedicated to Racvi Satlnei in Bologna (5th century BC) there is a writing that says: 

"aivastelmunsl = family of Ajax Telamon". 


In Homer's Iliad he is described as of great stature, colossal frame and strongest of all the Achaeans. Known as the 
'bulwark of the Mycenaeans', he was trained by the centaur Chiron (who had trained his father, Telamon, and 
Achilles' father Peleus), at the same time as Achilles. He was described as vicious, fearless, strong and powerful but 
also with a very high level of combat intelligence. 

After Achilles, Ajax is the most valuable warrior in Agamemnon's army (along with Diomedes), though he is not as 
cunning as Nestor, Diomedes, Idomeneus, or Odysseus, he is much more powerful and just as intelligent. He 
commands his army wielding a huge shield made of seven cow-hides with a layer of bronze. Most notably, Ajax is 
not wounded in any of the battles described in the Iliad, and he is the only principal character on either side who 
does not receive personal assistance from any of the gods who take part in the battles. 

Trojan War 

In the Iliad, Ajax is notable for his abundant strength and courage, seen particularly in two fights with Hector. In 
Book 7, Ajax is chosen by lot to meet Hector in a duel which lasts most of a whole day. Ajax at first gets the better 
of the encounter, wounding Hector with his spear and knocking him down with a large stone, but Hector fights on 
until the heralds, acting at the direction of Zeus, call a draw: the action ends without a winner and with the two 
combatants exchanging gifts, Ajax giving Hector a purple sash and Hector giving Ajax a sharp sword. 

The second fight between Ajax and Hector occurs when the latter breaks into the Mycenaean camp, and fights with 
the Greeks among the ships. In Book 14, Ajax throws a giant rock at Hector which almost kills him. In Book 15, 
Hector is restored to his strength by Apollo and returns to attack the ships. Ajax, wielding an enormous spear as a 
weapon and leaping from ship to ship, holds off the Trojan armies virtually single-handedly. In Book 16, Hector and 
Ajax duel once again. Hector is set on burning the ships, the only way he feels the Greeks will truly be defeated. 
Hector is able to disarm Ajax (although Ajax is not hurt) and Ajax is forced to retreat, seeing that Zeus is clearly 



favoring Hector. Hector and the Trojans succeed in burning one Greek ship, the culmination of an assault that almost 
finishes the war. Ajax is responsible for the death of many Trojans lords, including Phorcys. 

Ajax often fought in tandem with his brother Teucer, known for his skill with the bow. Ajax would wield his 
magnificent shield, as Teucer stood behind picking off enemy Trojans. 

Achilles was absent during these encounters because of his feud with Agamemnon. In Book 9, Agamemnon and the 
other Mycenaean chiefs send Ajax, Odysseus and Phoenix to the tent of Achilles in an attempt to reconcile with the 
great warrior and induce him to return to the fight. Although Ajax speaks earnestly and is well received, he does not 
succeed in convincing Achilles. 

When Patroclus is killed, Hector tries to steal his body. Ajax, assisted by Menelaus, succeeds in fighting off the 
Trojans and taking the body back with his chariot; however, the Trojans had already stripped Patroclus of Achilles' 
armor. Ajax's prayer to Zeus to remove the fog that has descended on the battle to allow them to fight or die in the 

light of day has become proverbial. According to Hyginus, in total, Ajax killed 28 people at Troy 



Like most of the other Greek leaders, Ajax is alive and well as the Iliad 
comes to a close. Later, when Achilles dies, killed by Paris (with help 
from Apollo), Ajax and Odysseus are the heroes who fight against the 
Trojans to get the body and bury it next to his friend, Patroclus. Ajax, 
with his great shield and spear, manages to drive off the Trojans, while 
Odysseus pulls the body to his chariot, and rides away with it to safety. 
After the burial, both claim the armor for themselves, as recognition 
for their efforts. After several days of competition, Odysseus and Ajax 
are tied for the ownership of the magical armor which was forged on 
Mount Olympus by the god Hephaestus. It is then that a competition is 
held to determine who deserves the armor. Ajax argues that because of his strength and the fighting he has done for 
the Greeks, including saving the ships from Hector, and driving him off with a massive rock, he deserves the 


armor. However, Odysseus proves to be more eloquent, and the council gives him the armor. Ajax, 
"Unconquered", and furious, falls upon his own sword, "conquered by his [own] sorrow" 

Sorrowful Ajax (Asmus Jacob Carstens, ca. 1791) 


In Sophocles' play Ajax, a famous retelling of Ajax's demise takes place — after the armor is awarded to Odysseus the 
hero Ajax falls to the ground, exhausted. When he wakes up, he is under the influence of a spell from Athena. He 
goes to a flock of sheep and slaughters them, imagining they are the Achaean leaders, including Odysseus and 
Agamemnon. When he comes to his senses, covered in blood, and realizes what he has done, with diminished honor 
he decides that he prefers to kill himself rather than to live in shame. He does so with the same sword Hector gave 
him when they exchanged presents. From his blood sprang a red flower, as at the death of Hyacinthus, which bore 
on its leaves the initial letters of his name Ai, also expressive of lament. His ashes were deposited in a golden urn 
on the Rhoetean promontory at the entrance of the Hellespont. 



Homer is somewhat vague about the precise manner of Ajax's death 
but does ascribe it to his loss in the dispute over Achilles's shield: when 
Odysseus visits Hades, he begs the soul of Ajax to speak to him, but 
Ajax, still resentful over the old quarrel, refuses and descends silently 
back into Erebus. 

Like Achilles, he is represented (although not by Homer) as living after 

his death in the island of Leuke at the mouth of the Danube. Ajax, 

who in the post-Homeric legend is described as the grandson of Aeacus 

and the great-grandson of Zeus, was the tutelary hero of the island of 

Salamis, where he had a temple and an image, and where a festival 


called Aianteia was celebrated in his honour. At this festival a couch 
was set up, on which the panoply of the hero was placed, a practice 

which recalls the Roman Lectisternium. The identification of Ajax with the family of Aeacus was chiefly a matter 
which concerned the Athenians, after Salamis had come into their possession, on which occasion Solon is said to 
have inserted a line in the Iliad (2.557—558), for the purpose of supporting the Athenian claim to the island. Ajax 
then became an Attic hero; he was worshiped at Athens, where he had a statue in the market-place, and the tribe 
Aiantis was named after him. Pausanias also relates that a gigantic skeleton, its kneecap 5 inches (unknown 
operator: u'strong' cm) in diameter, appeared on the beach near Sigeion, on the Trojan coast; these bones were 
identified as those of Ajax. 


In 2001, Yannos Lolos began excavating a Mycenaean palace on the island of Salamis which he supposed to be the 
home of the mythological Aiacid dynasty. The ruins have been excavated at a site near the village of Kanakia of 


Salamis, a few miles off the coast of Athens. The multi-story structure covers 750 m (unknown operator: 
u'strong 1 sq ft) and had perhaps 30 rooms. The Trojan War is supposed by many to have occurred at the height of 
the Mycenaean civilization (see discussion of Troy VII), roughly the point at which this palace appears to have been 




[1] "Salamis The Island" ( Salamis The Island — Salamina Municipality - Greek Island 

[2] Hyginus, Fabulae 114 ( 

[3] Ovid, Metamorphoses, translated by Rolfe Humphries (Indianapolis: Indiana University, 1955), Book XIII, pp. 305-309) 

[4] Metamorphoses, trans. Humphries, p. 318 

[5] Iliad, 7.303 

[6] Pausanias 1.35.4 

[7] Pausanias 3.19.11 

[8] Pausanias 1.35 

[9] Carr, John (2006-03-28). "Palace of Homers hero rises out of the myths" („3-2106548,00.html). 
The Times (London). . 




• This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (191 1). 
Encyclopedia Britannica (11th ed.)- Cambridge University Press. 

• Homer. Iliad, 7.181-312. 

• Homer, Odyssey 11.543—67 ( 

• Bibliotheca. Epitome III, 11-V, 7. 

• Ovid. Metamorphoses 12.620-13.398. 

• Friedrich Schiller, Das Siegerfest ( 

• Pindar's Nemeans, 7, 8; Isthmian 4 

External links 

• A translation of the debate and Ajax's death, 

• Paphitis, Nicholas (2006-03-30). "Archaeologist links palace to legendary Ajax" ( 
id/12080932/). MSNBC. Retrieved 2006-03-31. 

Ajax the Lesser 

For other uses of this name, see Ajax (disambiguation). 

Ajax (Ancient Greek: Aiaq) was a Greek mythological hero, son 
of Oileus, the king of Locris. He was called the "lesser" or 
"Locrian" Ajax, to distinguish him from Ajax the Great, son of 
Telamon. He was the leader of the Locrian contingent during the 
Trojan War. He is a significant figure in Homer's Iliad and is also 
mentioned in the Odyssey and Virgil's Aeneid. In Etruscan 
legend, he was known as Aivas Vilates. 


His mother's name was Eriopis. According to Strabo, he was born 

in Naryx in Locris, [3] where Ovid calls him Narycius Heroes^ Ajax the Lesser raping Cassandra 

According to the Iliad, he led his Locrians in forty ships against 

Troy. He is described as one of the great heroes among the Greeks. When the grammatical dual form of Ajax is 

used in the Iliad, it was once believed that it indicated the lesser Ajax fighting side-by-side with Telamonian Ajax, 

but now it is generally thought that that usage refers to the Greater Ajax and his brother Teucer. In battle, he wore a 

linen cuirass (>a|.ivo0a)pr|l;), was brave and intrepid, especially skilled in throwing the spear and, next to Achilles, 

the swiftest of all the Greeks. 

In the funeral games at the pyre of Patroclus, he contended with Odysseus and Antilochus for the prize in the 
footrace; but Athena, who was hostile towards him and favored Odysseus, made him stumble and fall, so that he won 
only the second prize. On his return from Troy, his vessel was wrecked on the Whirling Rocks (rupod jtetpaL), but 
he himself escaped upon a rock through the assistance of Poseidon and would have been saved in spite of Athena, 
but he said that he would escape the dangers of the sea in defiance of the immortals. In punishment for this 
presumption, Poseidon split the rock with his trident and Ajax was swallowed up by the sea. 

Ajax the Lesser 


In later traditions, this Ajax is called a son of Oileus and the nymph Rhene and is also mentioned among the suitors 
of Helen. After the taking of Troy, it is said he rushed into the temple of Athena, where Cassandra had taken 

refuge, and was embracing the statue of the goddess in supplication. Ajax violently dragged her away to the other 
captives. According to some writers, he even raped Cassandra inside the temple. Odysseus, at 

least, accused him of this crime and Ajax was to be stoned to death, but saved himself by establishing his innocence 


with an oath. The whole charge was sometimes said to have been an invention of Agamemnon, who wanted to 
have Cassandra for himself. 


Whether true or not, Athena still had cause to be indignant, as 
Ajax had dragged a supplicant from her temple. According to the 
Bibliotheca, no one had realised that Ajax had raped Cassandra 
until Calchas, the Greek seer, warned the Greeks that Athena was 
furious at the treatment of her priestess and she would destroy the 
Greek ships if they didn't kill him immediately. Despite this, Ajax 
managed to hide in the altar of an unnamed deity where the 
Greeks, fearing divine retribution should they kill him and destroy 
the altar, allowed him to live. When the Greeks left without killing 
Ajax, despite their sacrifices Athena became so angry that she 
persuaded Zeus to send a storm that sank many of their ships. When Ajax finally left Troy, Athena hit his ship with a 
thunderbolt, but Ajax still survived, managing to cling onto a rock. He boasted that even the gods could not kill him 
and Poseidon, upon hearing this, split the rock with his trident, causing Ajax to eventually drown. Thetis buried him 
when the corpse washed up on Myconos. Other versions depict a different death for Ajax, showing him dying 
when on his voyage home. In these versions, when Ajax came to the Capharean Rocks on the coast of Euboea, his 
ship was wrecked in a fierce storm, he himself was lifted up in a whirlwind and impaled with a flash of rapid fire 
from Athena in his chest, and his body thrust upon sharp rocks, which afterwards were called the rocks of 
Ajax. [15][21] 

Poseidon killing Ajax the Lesser 


After his death his spirit dwelt in the island of Leuce. The Opuntian Locrians worshiped Ajax as their national 
hero, and so great was their faith in him that when they drew up their army in battle, they always left one place open 

[22] [23] 

for him, believing that, although invisible to them, he was fighting for and among them. The story of Ajax was 

frequently made use of by ancient poets and artists, and the hero who appears on some Locrian coins with the 
helmet, shield, and sword is probably this Ajax 


Other accounts of his death are offered by Philostratus and the scholiast on Lycophron 

[25] [26] 

Ajax the Lesser 



The abduction of Cassandra by Ajax was frequently represented in Greek works of art, for instance on the chest of 

Cypselus described by Pausanias and in extant works 



[1] Homer, Iliad ii. 527 

[2] Schmitz, Leonhard (1867), "Ajax (2)" (, in Smith, William, Dictionary of Greek and 

Roman Biography and Mythology, 1, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, pp. 87—88, 

[3] Strabo, ix. p. 425 

[4] Ovid, Metamorphoses xiv. 468 

[5] Homer, Iliad ii. 527, &c. 

[6] Gaius Julius Hyginus, Fabulae 97 gives the number of ships as twenty 

[7] Homer, Iliad xiv. 520, &c, xxiii. 789, &c. 

[8] Homer, Iliad (xxiii. 754, &c. 

[9] Homer, Odyssey iv. 499, &c. 




Gaius Julius Hyginus, Fabulae 81, 97 
Bibliotheca iii. 10. § 8 
Virgil, Aeneid ii. 403 
Euripides, Troad. 70, &c. 
Diet. Cret. v. 12 

Gaius Julius Hyginus, Fabulae 116 
Tryphiodorus, 635 
Quintus Smyrnaeus, xiii. 422 
Lycophron, 360, with the Scholion 
Pausanias, Description of Greece x. 26. § 1, 31. § 1 

Apollodore, R. Scott Smith, Stephen Trzaskoma, and Hygin. Apollodorus' Library and Hyginus' Fabulae: Two Handbooks of Greek 
Mythology. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2007. 84-85. "5.24-6.6." Print, 
comp. Virgil, Aeneid i. 40, &c, xi. 260 
Pausanias, Description of Greece iii. 19. § 11 
Conon Narrations 18 
Theodore Edme Mionnet, No. 570, &c. 
Philostratus, Her. viii. 3 
Scholiast on Lycophron /. c. 
Pausanias, Description of Greece v. 17 


This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Smith, William, ed. (1867) 


name needed,, 

Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. 

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (191 1). 
Encyclopedia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 




In Greek mythology, Nestor of Gerenia (Ancient Greek: Nsottop 
repr]VLO<;, Nestor Gerenios) was the son of Neleus and Chloris and the 
King of Pylos. He became king after Heracles killed Neleus and all of 
Nestor's siblings. His wife was either Eurydice or Anaxibia; their 
children included Peisistratus, Thrasymedes, Pisidice, Polycaste, 
Stratichus, Aretus, Echephron, and Antilochus. 


Nestor was an Argonaut, helped fight the centaurs, and participated in 

the hunt for the Calydonian Boar. He and his sons, Antilochus and 

Thrasymedes, fought on the side of the Achaeans in the Trojan War. 

Though Nestor was already very old when the war began (he was 

believed to be about 1 10), he was noted for his bravery and speaking 

abilities. In the Iliad, he often gives advice to the younger warriors and 

advises Agamemnon and Achilles to reconcile. He is too old to engage in combat himself, but he leads the Pylian 

troops, riding his chariot, and one of his horses is killed by an arrow shot by Paris. He also had a solid gold shield. 

Homer frequently calls him by the epithet "the Gerenian horseman." At the funeral games of Patroclus, Nestor 

advises Antilochus on how to win the chariot race. Antilochus was later killed in battle by Memnon. 

In the Odyssey, Nestor and those who were part of his army had safely returned to Pylos since they didn't take part in 
the looting of Troy upon the Greek's victory in the Trojan War. Odysseus's son Telemachus travels to Pylos to 
inquire about the fate of his father. Nestor receives Telemachus kindly and entertains him lavishly but is unable to 
furnish any information on his father's fate. Also appearing in the Odyssey are Nestor's wife Eurydice (a 
mythological figure separate from Orpheus's wife of the same name) and their remaining living sons: Echephron, 
Stratius, Perseus, Aretus, Thrasymedes and Peisistratus. Nestor also had a daughter named Polycaste. 

According to some, this cup shows Hecamede 

mixing kykeon for Nestor. Tondo of an Attic 

red-figure cup, c. 490 BC. From Vulci. 



Nestor's advice 

In the Odyssey, too, Homer's admiration of Nestor is tempered by some humor at his expense: Telemachus, having 
returned to Nestor's home from a visit to Helen of Troy and Menelaus (where he has sought further information on 
his father's fate), urges Peisistratus to let him board his vessel immediately to return home rather than being 
subjected to a further dose of Nestor's rather overwhelming sense of hospitality. 

Nestor's advice in the Iliad has also been interpreted to have sinister 
undertones. For example, when Patroclus comes to Nestor for advice in 
Book 11, Nestor persuades him that it is urgent for him to disguise 
himself as Achilles. Karl Reinhardt argues that this is contrary to what 
Patroclus really originally wanted — in fact, he is only there to receive 

information on behalf of Achilles about the wounded Machaon 


Reinhardt notes that an "unimportant errand left behind by an 
all-important one ... Patroclus' role as messenger is crucial and an 
ironic purpose permeates the encounter." 

It is interesting to note that Homer offers contradictory portrayals of 

Nestor as a source of advice. On one hand, Homer portrays Nestor as a 

wise man; Nestor repeatedly offers advice to the Achaeans that has 

been claimed to be anachronistic in Homer's time — for example, 

arranging the armies by tribes and clans or effectively using chariots in 

battle. Yet at the same time Nestor's advice is frequently ineffective. 

Some examples include Nestor accepting without question the dream 

Zeus plants in Agamemnon in Book 2 and urging the Achaeans to 

battle, instructing the Achaeans in Book 4 to use spear techniques that in actuality would be disastrous, and in 

Book 1 1 giving advice to Patroclus that ultimately leads to his death. Yet Nestor is never questioned and instead is 

frequently praised 

Nestor and his sons sacrifice to Poseidon on the 

beach at Pylos (Attic red-figure calyx-krater, 

400-380 BC) 


Hanna Roisman explains that the characters in the Iliad ignore the discrepancy between the quality of Nestor's advice 
and its outcomes is because, in the world of the Iliad, "outcomes are ultimately in the hands of the ever arbitrary and 
fickle gods ... heroes are not necessarily viewed as responsible when things go awry." In the Iliad, people are judged 
not necessarily in the modern view of results, but as people. Therefore Nestor should be viewed as a good 
counselor because of the qualities he possesses as described in his introduction in Book 1 — as a man of "sweet 


words," a "clear-voiced orator," and whose voice "flows sweeter than honey." These are elements that make up 
Nestor, and they parallel the elements that Homer describes as part of a good counselor at Iliad 3.150—152. 
Therefore, "the definition tells us that Nestor, as a good advisor, possesses the three features ... that it designates." 
Nestor is a good counselor inherently, and the consequences of his advice have no bearing on that, a view that differs 
from how good counselors are viewed today. 




[1] A. Dalby, Siren Feasts, London, 1996, p. 151 

[2] Reinhardt, Karl. Die Iliad und ihr Dichter (Gottingen 1 96 1 ) 25 8-6 1 . 

[3] Pedrick, Victoria. "The Paradigmatic Nature of Nestor's Speech in Iliad 11". Transactions of the American Philological Association Vol. 113. 

(1983), pp. 55-68. 

[4] G. S. Kirk, The Iliad: A Commentary, I. Books 1-4 (Cambridge, 1987). 

[5] N. Postlethwaite, Homer's Iliad: A Commentary on the Translation of Richmond Lattimore (Exeter, 2000) on 4.301—9. 

[6] Examples include Iliad 2.372, 4.293 and 11.627. 

[7] Roisman, Hanna. "Nestor the Good Counselor." Classical Quarterly 55 (2005) 17—38. 

[8] Iliad 1.247-253 


• Homer. Iliad I, 248; II, 370; IV, 293. 

• Homer. Odyssey III, 157, 343. 

• The Merchant of Venice Act I, Scene I, Line 55. 

• In James Joyce's Ulysses, the character of Deasy stands for Nestor. 


Diomedes or Diomed (Ancient Greek: 

Aio\.u-\&ti~\c, Diomedes ""God-like cunning" or "advised by 
Zeus"") is a hero in Greek mythology, known for his 
participation in the Trojan War. 

He was born to Tydeus and Deipyle and later became King 
of Argos, succeeding his maternal grandfather, Adrastus. In 
Homer's Iliad Diomedes is regarded alongside Ajax as one 
of the best warriors of all the Achaeans (behind only 
Achilles in prowess). In Virgil's Aeneid he is one of the 
warriors who entered the Trojan Horse shortly before the 
sack of Troy. 

Early myths 

Diomedes was, on his father's side, an Aetolian, and on his 
mother's an Argive. This is so because his father Tydeus left 
Calydon and fled to Argos in order to avoid being 
persecuted by his uncle Agrius. He married King Adrastus's 
daughter Deipyle. 

Tydeus participated in the expedition, known as the Seven 
Against Thebes. This 

^... W^, ^B 

& ; 1 

1 i I ■ 

Diomedes, King of Argos - Roman copy of a statue by Kresilas 
from ca. 430 BC. Glyptothek, Munchen. 



Athena counseling Diomedes shortly before he enters the battle - (Schlossbrilcke, 


expedition failed and all leaders, including 
Tydeus were killed. Tydeus was Athena's 
favourite warrior at the time, and when he 
was dying she wanted to offer him a magic 
elixir (which she had obtained from her 
father) that would make him immortal. 
However, she withdrew the intended 
privilege in apparent disgust when Tydeus 
gobbled down the brains of the hated enemy 
who had wounded him. 

According to some, Diomedes was 4 years 
old when his father was killed. At the 
funeral of their fathers, the sons of Seven 
Against Thebes (Aegialeus, Alcmaeon, 
Amphilocus, Diomedes, Euryalus, 

Promachus, Sthenelus, Thersander) met and 
vowed to vanquish Thebes one day. They 
called themselves "Epigoni" because they 
were born "after everything has happened". 

Ten years later, the Epigoni appointed 

Alcmaeon as their commander in chief and 

gathered an army. They added to their forces 

from Argos contingents from Messenia, Arcadia, Corinth, and Megara. This army, however, was a small one 

compared to the forces of Thebes. 

The Epigoni war is remembered as the most important expedition in Greek Mythology before the Trojan War. It was 
a favorite topic for epics, but, unfortunately, all of these epics are now lost. The main battle took place at Glisas 
where the warrior Aegialeus (son of King Adrastus of Argos) was slain by King Laodamas. Diomedes was 15 years 
old by then and was considered the mightiest of all. Vanquished by the Epigoni, the Thebans followed the counsel of 
Tiresias and fled away. Epigoni took the city and most Argive commanders returned rich to their countries after 
having sacked Thebes, but the city they handed over to Thersander. 

Adrastus died of grief when he learned that his son Aegialeus had perished in the battle at Glisas. Aegialeus was 
married to Comaetho, daughter of Tydeus (sister of Diomedes). Diomedes, in turn, married Aegialeus's daughter 
Aegialia when he returned from battle. He was then appointed as the King of Argos and thus became one of the most 
powerful rulers of Hellas at such a young age. 

According to some, Diomedes ruled Argos for more than five years and brought much wealth and stability to the city 
during his time. He was a skilled politician and was greatly respected by other rulers. He still kept an eye on 
Calydonian politics (his father's homeland), and when the sons of Agrius (led by Thersites) put Oeneus (Diomedes' 
grandfather) in jail and their own father on the throne, Diomedes decided to restore the throne to Oeneus. 

Diomedes attacked and ceded the Kingdom, slaying all the traitors except Thersites, Onchestus (who escaped to 
Peloponnesus) and Agrius (who killed himself) restoring his grandfather to the throne. Later, Oeneus passed the 
Kingdom to his son-in-law Andraemon and headed for Argos to meet Diomedes. He was assassinated on the way (in 
Arcadia) by Thersites and Onchestus. Unable to find the murderers, Diomedes founded a mythical city called 
"Oenoe" at the place where his grandfather was buried to honour his death. Later, Thersites fought against the 
Trojans in the Trojan War and noble Diomedes did not mistreat him (however, Thersites was hated by all Achaeans). 
In fact, when Thersites was brutally slain by Achilles (after having mocked him when the latter cried over 

Diomedes 319 

Penthesilia's dead body) Diomedes was the only person who wanted to punish Achilles. 

After some years, Diomedes became one of the Suitors of Helen and, as such, he was bound by The Oath of 
Tyndareus, which established that all the suitors would defend and protect the man who was chosen as Helen's 
husband against any wrong done against him in regard to his marriage. Accordingly, when the seducer Paris stole 
Menelaus' wife, all those who had sworn the oath were summoned by Agamemnon (Menelaus' brother), so that they 
would join the coalition that was to sail from Aulis to Troy in order to demand the restoration of Helen and the 
Spartan property that was stolen. 

Trojan War 

Diomedes is known primarily for his participation in the Trojan War. According to Homer, Diomedes enters the war 
with a fleet of 80 ships, third only to the contributions of Agamemnon (100 ships) and Nestor (90). Both Sthenelus 
and Euryalus (former Epigoni) fought under his command with their armies. Sthenelus was the driver of Diomedes' 
chariot and probably his closest friend. All the troops from Argos, Tiryns, Troezen and some other cities were 
headed by Diomedes. According to some interpretations, Diomedes is represented in the epic as the most valiant 
soldier of the war, who never commits hubris. He is often referred to by Homer as the youngest amongst the 
Achaean warrior-kings, and yet the most powerful fighter, second only to Achilles. On other occasions, Ajax is also 
characterized as the second-best warrior of the Achaean force. However, during Patroclus' funeral games, Diomedes 
was overwhelming Ajax when his comrades advised the fighting to stop, lest one of them get injured. In this way, he 
won first place in the armed sparring tournament. 

Apart from his outstanding fighting abilities and courage, Diomedes is on several crucial occasions shown to possess 
great wisdom, which is acknowledged and respected by his much older comrades, including Agamemnon and 
Nestor. Diomedes, Nestor and Odysseus were some of the greatest Achaean strategists. Throughout the Iliad, 
Diomedes and Nestor are frequently seen speaking first in war-counsel. 

Instances of Diomedes' maturity and intelligence as described in parts of the epic: 

• In Book IV Agamemnon taunts Diomedes by calling him a much inferior fighter than his father. His enraged 
comrade Sthenelus urges Diomedes to stand up to Agamemnon by responding that he has bested his father and 
avenged his death by conquering "Seven-gated" Thebes. Diomedes responded that it was part of Agamemnon's 
tasks as a leader to urge forward the Achaean soldiers, and that men of valour should have no problem 
withstanding such insults. However, when Agamemnon uses the same kind of taunting to Odysseus, the latter 
responds with anger. 

• Although Diomedes dismissed Agamemnon's taunting with respect, he did not hesitate to point out Agamemnon's 
inadequacy as a leader in certain crucial occasions. In Book IX, Agamemnon proposes going back to Hellas 
because Zeus has turned against them. Diomedes then reminds him of the previous insult and tells him that his 
behavior is not proper for a leader, "but they all held their peace, till at last Diomed of the loud battle-cry made 
answer saying, 'Son of Atreus, I will chide your folly, as is my right in council. Be not then aggrieved that I 
should do so. In the first place you attacked me before all the Danaans and said that I was a coward and no 
soldier...'" Achaean council - Book IX 

• Diomedes also points out that because Troy is destined to fall, they should continue fighting regardless of Zeus' 
interventions. "If your own mind is set upon going home — go — the way is open to you; the many ships that 
followed you from Mycene stand ranged upon the seashore; but the rest of us stay here till we have sacked Troy. 
Nay though these too should turn homeward with their ships, Sthenelus and myself will still fight on till we reach 
the goal of Ilius, for heaven was with us when we came." 

• "The sons of the Achaeans shouted applause at the words of Diomed, and presently Nestor rose to speak. 'Son of 
Tydeus,' said he, 'in war your prowess is beyond question, and in council you excel all who are of your own years; 
no one of the Achaeans can make light of what you say nor gainsay it, but you have not yet come to the end of the 
whole matter. You are still young- you might be the youngest of my own children — still you have spoken wisely 

Diomedes 320 

and have counselled the chief of the Achaeans not without discretion;'" Achaean council - Book IX 

• When Agamemnon tried to appease Achilles's wrath so that he would fight again, by offering him many gifts, 
Nestor appointed three envoys to meet Achilles (Book IX). They had to return empty handed; Achilles had told 
them that he will leave Troy and never return. The Achaeans were devastated at this. Diomedes points out the 
folly of offering these gifts, "Most noble son of Atreus, king of men, Agamemnon, you ought not to have sued the 
son of Peleus nor offered him gifts. He is proud enough as it is, and you have encouraged him in his pride still 
further". Here, Diomedes makes a prediction based on his reasoning that eventually becomes true. He says that 
even if Achilles somehow manages to leave Troy, he will never be able to stay away from battle because he 
cannot change the fate; "let him go or stay — the gods will make sure that he will fight." In Book XV, Zeus says to 
Hera that he had already made a plan to make sure that Achilles will eventually enter the battle. 

• Diomedes also encourages Agamemnon to take the lead of tomorrow's battle. "But when fair rosy-fingered morn 
appears, forthwith bring out your host and your horsemen in front of the ships, urging them on, and yourself 
fighting among the foremost." (Book IX) Agamemnon accepts this counsel and the next day's battle starts with his 
"aristeia" where he becomes the hero of the day. 

Instances of Diomedes's valour and expertise in battle according to quotations: 

• "As he (Diomedes) spoke he sprang from his chariot, and his armour rang so fiercely about his body that even a 
brave man might well have been scared to hear it." - Book IV 

• "Diomed looked angrily at him and answered: "Talk not of flight, for I shall not listen to you: I am of a race that 
knows neither flight nor fear, and my limbs are as yet unwearied. I am in no mind to mount, but will go against 
them even as I am;" Battle with Aeneas and Pandarus - Book V 

• "But the son of Tydeus caught up a mighty stone, so huge and great that as men now are it would take two to lift 
it; nevertheless he bore it aloft with ease unaided," Battle with Aeneas - Book V 

• "Father Jove, grant that the lot fall on Ajax, or on the son of Tydeus, or upon the king of rich Mycene himself." 
Duel of Hector - Book VII 

• "The old man instantly began cutting the traces with his sword, but Hector's fleet horses bore down upon him 
through the rout with their bold charioteer, even Hector himself, and the old man would have perished there and 
then had not Diomed been quick to mark" Saving Nestor - Book VII 

• "They all held their peace, but Diomed of the loud war-cry spoke saying, 'Nestor, gladly will I visit the host of the 
Trojans over against us, but if another will go with me I shall do so in greater confidence and comfort. When two 
men are together, one of them may see some opportunity which the other has not caught sight of; if a man is alone 
he is less full of resource, and his wit is weaker.'" Achaean plans - Book X 

Diomedes' place among Achaeans 

Although he was the youngest of all Achaean kings, he is considered the most experienced leader by some scholars 
(he had fought more battles than others, including the most important war expedition before the Trojan War — even 
old Nestor had not participated in such military work). 

Second only to Achilles, Diomedes is considered to be the mightiest and the most skilled warrior among the 
Achaeans. He even got the better of Ajax, son of Telamon, in an armed sparring tournament, but the bout was called 
off prematurely. He vanquished (and could have killed) Hector (the greatest Trojan Warrior) on two occasions and 
Aeneas (the second best Trojan warrior) once. 

He and Odysseus were the only heroes who participated in tasks such as night missions which demanded discipline, 
bravery, courage, cunning and resourcefulness. 

Diomedes received the most direct divine help and protection. He was the favorite warrior of Athena (who even 
drove his chariot once). He was also the only person who attacked (and even wounded) Olympian Immortals. He 
was also given divine vision to identify immortals on one occasion. 

Only Diomedes and Menelaus were offered immortality and became gods in post Homeric mythology. 

Diomedes 321 


The god Hephaestus made Diomedes' cuirass for him. He was the only Greek warrior apart from Achilles who 
carried such an arsenal of gear made by Hera's most skilled son. He also had a round shield with the mark of a boar. 
In combat, he also carried a spear as well as his father's sword and possessed a golden cuirass. This golden armor 
bore a crest of a boar on the breast. It was created by a mortal smith but was blessed by Athena, who gave it to 
Tydeus. When he died, it passed to Diomedes. A skilled smith created the sword for Tydeus, which bore designs of a 
lion and a big boar. 

Diomedes in Aulis 

In Aulis, where Achaean leaders gathered, Diomedes met his brother in arms Odysseus, with whom he shared 
several adventures. Both of them were favorite heroes of Athena and were very similar in character. They began to 
combine their efforts and actions already when being in Aulis. 

Diomedes and Odysseus were Agamemnon's most trusted officers. When the sacrifice of Iphigenia (Agamemnon's 
daughter) became a necessity for Achaeans to sail away from Aulis, king Agamemnon had to choose between 
sacrificing his daughter and resigning from his post of high commander among Achaeans (in which case Diomedes 
would probably become the leader). When he decided to sacrifice his daughter to Artemis, Diomedes and Odysseus 
were among the few Achaean officers familiar with his plans. The two unscrupulous friends carried out this order of 
Agamemnon by luring Iphigenia from Mycenae to Aulis, where murder, disguised as wedding, awaited her. 


Once in Troy, Odysseus murdered Palamedes (the commander who outwitted Odysseus in Ithaca, forcing him to 
stand by his oath and join the alliance), drowning him while he was fishing. According to other stories, when 
Palamedes advised the Greeks to return home, Odysseus accused him of being a traitor and forged false evidence and 
found a fake witness to testify against him. Palamedes was stoned to death. 

Some say that Diomedes conspired with Odysseus against Palamedes, and under the pretence of having discovered a 
hidden treasure, they let him down into a well and there stoned him to death. Others say that, though Diomedes 
guessed or knew about the plot, he did not try to defend Palamedes, because Odysseus was essential for the fall of 

Diomedes in the Iliad 

Diomedes is one of the main characters in the Iliad. This epic narrates a series of events that took place during the 
final year of the great war. Diomedes is the key fighter in the first third of the epic. According to some 
interpretations, Diomedes is represented in the epic as the most valiant soldier of the war, who never committed 
hubris. He is regarded as the perfect embodiment of traditional heroic values because he displays virtues such as 
courage while fighting in the front ranks for honor and glory, respect for his commander Agamemnon and the gods, 
and finally self-restraint/humility to remain within mortal limits. 

Diomedes' aristeia ("excellence" — the great deeds of a hero) begins in Book V and continues in Book VI. Some 
scholars claim that this part of the epic was originally a separate, independent poem (describing the feats of 
Diomedes) that Homer adapted and included in the Iliad. Diomedes' aristeia represents many of his heroic virtues 
such as outstanding fighting skills, bravery, divine protection/advice, carefully planned tactics of war, leadership, 
humility and self-restraint. 

Book V begins with Athena, the war-like goddess of wisdom putting valour into the heart of her champion warrior. 
She also makes a stream of fire flare from his shield and helmet. Diomedes then slays a number of Trojan warriors 
including Phegeus (whose brother was spirited away by Hera's son before being slain by Diomedes) until Pandarus 
wounds him with an arrow. Diomedes then prays to Athena for the slaughter of Pandarus. She responds by offering 



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Diomedes attacking Aeneas-Athena stands 
behind him 

him a special vision to distinguish gods from men and asks him to wound Aphrodite if she ever comes to battle. She 
also warns him not to engage any other god. 

He continues to make havoc among the Trojans by killing Astynous, Hypeiron, Abas, Polyidus, Xanthus, Thoon, 
Echemmon and Chromius (two sons of Priam). Finally, Aeneas (son of Aphrodite) asks Pandarus to mount his 
chariot and fight Diomedes together. Sthenelus warns his friend of their approach. 

Diomedes faces this situation by displaying both his might and wisdom. Although he can face both of these warriors 
together, he knows that Aphrodite may try to save her son. He also knows the history of Aeneas' two horses (they 
descend from Zeus's immortal horses). Since he has to carry out Athena's order, he orders Sthenelus to steal the 
horses while he faces Aphrodite's son. 

Pandarus throws his spear first and brags that he has killed the son of 

Tydeus. The latter responds by saying "at least, one of you will be 

slain" and throws his spear. Pandarus is killed and Aeneas is left to 

fight Diomedes (now unarmed). Not bothering with weapons, 

Diomedes picks up a huge stone and crushes his enemy's hip with it. 

Aeneas faints and is rescued by his mother before Diomedes can kill 

him. Mindful of Athena's orders, Diomedes runs after Aphrodite and 

wounds her arm. Dropping her son, the goddess flees towards 

Olympus. Apollo now comes to the rescue of the Trojan hero. 

Disregarding Athena's advice, Diomedes attacks Apollo twice before 

Apollo warns him not to match himself against immortals. Respecting 

Apollo, Diomedes then withdraws himself from that combat. Although he has failed in killing Aeneas, following his 

orders, Sthenelus has already stolen the two valuable horses of Aeneas. Diomedes then became the owner of the 

second best pair of horses (after Achilles' immortal ones) among Achaeans. 

Aphrodite complained to her mother about Diomedes' handiwork. The 
latter reminded her of mighty Heracles (now, an Olympian himself) 
who held the record of wounding not one but two Olympians as a 

The transgression of Diomedes by attacking Apollo had its 
consequences. Urged by Apollo, Ares came to the battlefield to help 
Trojans. Identifying the god of war, Diomedes protected the Achaeans 
by ordering them to withdraw towards their ships. Hera saw the havoc 

created by her son and together with Athena, she came to the Achaeans' aid. When Athena saw Diomedes resting 
near his horses, she mocked him, reminding him of Tydeus who frequently disobeyed her advice. Diomedes replied 
"Goddess, I know you truly and will not hide anything from you. I am following your instructions and retreating for I 
know that Ares is fighting among the Trojans". Athena answered "Diomedes most dear to my heart, do not fear this 
immortal or any other god for I will protect you." Throwing Sthenelus out of the chariot and mounting it herself, the 
goddess (who invented the chariot and taught humans to drive it) drove straight at Ares. She also put on the helmet 
of Hades, making her invisible to even gods. Ares saw only Diomedes in the chariot and threw his spear which was 
caught by Athena. Diomedes then threw his spear (which was guided by Athena) at Ares, wounding his stomach. 
The god screamed in a voice of 10,000 men and fled away. This was how Diomedes became the only human to 
wound two Olympians in a single day. 

In Book VI, Diomedes continued his feats by killing Axylus and Calesius. Hector's brother Helenus described 
Diomedes' fighting skills in this manner: "He fights with fury and fills men's souls with panic. I hold him mightiest 
of them all; we did not fear even their great champion Achilles, son of an immortal though he be, as we do this man: 
his rage is beyond all bounds, and there is none can vie with him in prowess." 

Diomedes 323 

Helenus then sent Hector to the city of Troy to tell their mother about what was happening. According to the 
instructions of Helenus, Priam's wife gathered matrons at the temple of Athena in the acropolis and offered the 
goddess the largest, fairest robe of Troy. She also promised the sacrifice of twelve heifers if Athena could take pity 
on them and break the spear of Diomedes. Athena, of course, did not grant it. 

Meanwhile, one brave Trojan named Glaucus challenged the son of Tydeus to a single combat. Impressed by his 
bravery and noble appearance, Diomedes inquired if he were an immortal in disguise. Although Athena has 
previously told him not to fear any immortal, Diomedes displayed his humility by saying, "I will not fight any more 

Glaucus told the story of how he was descended from Bellerophon who 
killed the Chimaera and the Amazons. Diomedes realized that his 
grandfather Oeneus hosted Bellerophon, and so Diomedes and Glaucus 
must also be friends. They resolved to not fight each other and Diomedes 
proposed exchanging their armours. Cunning Diomedes only gave away 
a bronze armour for the golden one he received. The phrase 'Diomedian 
swap' originated from this incident. 

In Book VII, Diomedes was among the nine Achaean warriors who came 

forward to fight Hector in a single combat. When they cast lots to choose 

one among those warriors, the Achaeans prayed "Father Zeus, grant that 

the lot fall on Ajax, or on the son of Tydeus, or upon Agamemnon." Ajax Diomedes and Glaucus 

was chosen to fight Hector. 

Idaeus of the Trojans came for a peace negotiation, and he offered to give back all the treasures Paris stole plus 
more — everything except Helen. In the Achaean council, Diomedes was the first one to speak: "Let there be no 
taking, neither treasure, nor yet Helen, for even a child may see that the doom of the Trojans is at hand." These 
words were applauded by all and Agamemnon said, "This is the answer of the Achaeans." 

In Book VIII, Zeus ordered all other deities to not interfere with the battle. He made the Trojans stronger so they 
could drive away the Achaeans from battle. Then he thundered aloud from Ida and sent the glare of his lightning 
upon the Achaeans. Seeing this, all the great Achaean warriors — including the two Ajaxes, Agamemnon, Idomeneus 
and Odysseus — took flight. Nestor could not escape because one of his horses was wounded by Paris' arrow. He 
might have perished if not for Diomedes. 

This incident is the best example for Diomedes' remarkable bravery. Seeing that Nestor's life was in danger, the son 
of Tydeus shouted for Odysseus' help. The latter ignored his cry and ran away. Left alone in the battleground, 
Diomedes took his stand before Nestor and ordered him to take Sthenelus' place. Having Nestor as the driver, 
Diomedes bravely rushed towards Hector. Struck by his spear, Hector's driver Eniopeus was slain. Taking a new 
driver, Archeptolemus, Hector advanced forward again. Zeus saw that both Hector and Archeptolemus were about to 
be slain by Diomedes and decided to intervene. He took his mighty Thunderbolt and shot its lightning in front of 
Diomedes' chariot. Nestor advised Diomedes to turn back since no person should try to transgress Zeus' will. 
Diomedes answered, "Hector will talk among the Trojans and say, 'The son of Tydeus fled before me to the ships.' 
This is the vaunt he will make, and may the earth then swallow me." Nestor responded, "Son of Tydeus, though 
Hector say that you are a coward the Trojans and Dardanians will not believe him, nor yet the wives of the mighty 
warriors whom you have laid low." Saying these words, Nestor turned the horses back. Hector, seeing that they had 
turned back from battle, called Diomedes a "woman and a coward" and promised to slay him personally. Diomedes 
thought three times of turning back and fighting Hector, but Zeus thundered from heaven each time. 

When all the Achaean seemed discouraged, Zeus sent an eagle as a good omen. Diomedes was the first warrior to 
read this omen, and he immediately attacked the Trojans and killed Agelaus. 

Diomedes 324 

At the end of the day's battle, Hector made one more boast, "Let the women each of them light a great fire in her 
house, and let watch be safely kept lest the town be entered by surprise while the host is outside... I shall then know 
whether brave Diomed will drive me back from the ships to the wall, or whether I shall myself slay him and carry off 
his bloodstained spoils. Tomorrow let him show his mettle, abide my spear if he dare. I ween that at break of day, he 
shall be among the first to fall and many another of his comrades round him. Would that I were as sure of being 
immortal and never growing old, and of being worshipped like Minerva and Apollo, as I am that this day will bring 
evil to the Argives." 

These words subsequently turned out to be wrong. In spite of careful watch, Diomedes managed to launch an attack 
upon the sleeping Trojans. Hector was vanquished by Diomedes yet again and it was Diomedes that ended up being 
worshipped as an immortal. 

In Book IX, Agamemnon started shedding tears and proposed to abandon the war for good because Zeus was 
supporting the Trojans. Diomedes pointed out that this behavior was inappropriate for a leader like Agamemnon. He 
also declared that he will never leave the city unvanquished for the gods were originally with them. This speech 
signifies the nature of Homeric tradition where fate and divine interventions have superiority over human choices. 
Diomedes believed that Troy was fated to fall and had absolute and unconditional faith in victory. 

However, this was one of the two instances where Diomedes' opinion was criticized by Nestor. He praised 
Diomedes' intelligence and declared that no person of such young age could equal Diomedes in counsel. He then 
criticized Diomedes for not making any positive proposal to replace Agamemnon's opinion — a failure which Nestor 
ascribed to his youth. Nestor believed in the importance of human choices and proposed to change Achilles' mind by 
offering many gifts. This proposal was approved by both Agamemnon and Odysseus. 

The embassy failed because Achilles himself had more faith in his own choices than fate or divine interventions. He 
threatened to leave Troy, never to return believing that this choice will enable him to live a long life. When the 
envoys returned, Diomedes criticized Nestor's decision and Achilles' pride saying that Achilles' personal choice of 
leaving Troy is of no importance (therefore, trying to change it with gifts is useless). Diomedes said, "Let Achilles 
stay or leave if he wishes to, but he will fight when the time comes. Let's leave it to the gods to set his mind on that." 
(In Book 15, Zeus tells Hera that he has already planned the method of bringing Achilles back to battle, confirming 
that Diomedes was right all along) 

Book X — Agamemnon and Menelaus rounded up their principal commanders to get ready for battle the next day. 
They woke up Odysseus, Nestor, Ajax, Diomedes and Idomeneus. While the others were sleeping inside their tents, 
king Diomedes was seen outside his tent clad in his armour sleeping upon an ox skin, already well-prepared for any 
problem he may encounter at night. During the Achaean council held, Agamemnon asked for a volunteer to spy on 
the Trojans. Again, it was Diomedes who stepped forward. 

The son of Tydeus explained "If another will go with me, I could do this in greater confidence and comfort. When 
two men are together, one of them may see some opportunity which the other has not caught sight of; if a man is 
alone he is less full of resource, and his wit is weaker." These words inspired many other heroes to step forward. 
Agamemnon put Diomedes in charge of the mission and asked him to choose a companion himself. The hero 
instantly selected Odysseus for he was loved by Athena and was quick witted. Although Odysseus had deserted 
Diomedes in the battlefield that very day, instead of bashing him, the latter praised his bravery in front of others. 
Odysseus' words hinted that he actually did not wish to be selected. 

Meanwhile, in a similar council held by Hector, not a single prince or king would volunteer to spy on Achaeans. 
Finally Hector managed to send Dolon, a good runner, after making a false oath (promising him Achilles' horses 
after the victory). 

On their way to the Trojan camp, Diomedes and Odysseus discovered Dolon approaching the Achaean camp. The 
two kings lay among the corpses till Dolon passed them and ran after him. Dolon proved to be the better runner but 
Athena infused fresh strength into the son of Tydeus for she feared some other Achaean might earn the glory of 
being first to hit Dolon. Diomedes threw his spear over Dolon's shoulders and ordered him to stop. 

Diomedes 325 

Dolon gave them several valuable pieces of information. According to Dolon, Hector and the other councilors were 
holding conference by the monument of great Bus, away from the general tumult. In addition, he told about a major 
weakness in Trojan army. Only the Trojans had watchfires; they, therefore, were awake and kept each other to their 
duty as sentinels; but the allies who have come from other places were asleep and left it to the Trojans to keep guard. 
It is never explained in the epic why Dolon, specially mentioned as a man of lesser intelligence, came to notice this 
flaw while Hector (in spite of all his boasting) completely missed/ignored it. 

On further questioning, Diomedes and Odysseus learnt that among the various allies, Thracians were the most 
vulnerable for they had come last and were sleeping apart from the others at the far end of the camp. Rhesus was 
their king and Dolon described Rhesus' horses in this manner; "His horses are the finest and strongest that I have 
ever seen, they are whiter than snow and fleeter than any wind that blows". 

Having truthfully revealed valuable things, Dolon expected to be taken as a prisoner to the ships, or to be tied up, 
while the other two found out whether he had told them the truth or not. But Diomedes told him: "You have given us 
excellent news, but do not imagine you are going to get away, now that you have fallen into our hands. If we set you 
free tonight, there is nothing to prevent your coming down once more to the Achaean ships, either to play the spy or 
to meet us in open fight. But if I lay my hands on you and take your life, you will never be a nuisance to the Argives 
again." Having said this, Diomedes cut off the prisoner's head with his sword, without giving him time to plead for 
his life. 

Although the original purpose of this night mission was spying on the Trojans, the information given by Dolon 
persuaded the two friends to plan an attack upon the Thracians. They took the spoils and set them upon a tamarisk 
tree in honour of Athena. Then they went where Dolon had indicated, and having found the Thracian king, Diomedes 
let him and twelve of his soldiers pass from one kind of sleep to another; for they were all killed in their beds, while 
asleep. Meanwhile, Odysseus gathered the team of Rhesus' horses. Diomedes was wondering when to stop. He was 
planning to kill some more Thracians and stealing the chariot of the king with his armour when Athena advised him 
to back off for some other god may warn the Trojans. 

This first night mission demonstrates another side of these two kings where they 
employed stealth and treachery along with might and bravery but more 
importantly fulfills one of the prophecies required for the fall of Troy: that Troy 
will not fall while the horses of Rhesus feed upon its plains (According to 
another version of the story, it had been foretold by an oracle that if the stallions 
of Rhesus were ever to drink from the river Scamander, which cuts across the 
Trojan plain, then the city of Troy would never fall. The Greeks never allowed 
the horses to drink from that river for all of them were stolen by Diomedes and 
Odysseus shortly after their arrival). These horses were given to king Diomedes. 

According to some scholars, the rest of Thracians, deprived of their king, left 

Troy to return to their kingdom. This was another bonus of the night mission. Diomedes and Odysseus stealing 

Book XI- In the forenoon, the fight was equal, but Agamemnon turned the fortune of the day towards the Achaeans 
until he got wounded and left the field. Hector then seized the battlefield and slew many Achaeans. Beholding this, 
Diomedes and Odysseus continued to fight with a lot of valor, giving hope to the Achaeans. The king of Argos slew 
Thymbraeus, two sons of Merops, and Agastrophus. 

Hector soon marked the havoc Diomedes and Odysseus were making, and approached them. Diomedes immediately 
threw his spear at Hector, aiming for his head. This throw was dead accurate but the helmet given by Apollo saved 
Hector's life. Yet, the spear was sent with such great force that Hector swooned away. Meanwhile, Diomedes ran 
towards Hector to get his spear. Hector recovered and mingled with the crowd, by which means he saved his life 
from Diomedes for the second time. Frustrated, Diomedes shouted after Hector calling him a dog. The son of 

Diomedes 326 

Tydeus, frequently referred to as the lord of war cry, was not seen speaking disrespectful words to his enemies 

Shortly after that Paris jumped up in joy for he managed to achieve a great feat by fixing Diomedes' foot to the 
ground with an arrow. Dismayed at this, Diomedes said "Seducer, a worthless coward like you can inflict but a light 
wound; when I wound a man though I but graze his skin it is another matter, for my weapon will lay him low. His 
wife will tear her cheeks for grief and his children will be fatherless: there will he rot, reddening the earth with his 
blood, and vultures, not women, will gather round him." Under Odysseus' cover, Diomedes withdrew the arrow but 
unable to fight with a limp, he retired from battle. 

Book XIV- The wounded kings (Diomedes, Agamemnon and Odysseus) held council with Nestor regarding the 
possibility of Trojan army reaching their ships. Agamemnon proposed drawing the ships on the beach into the water 
but Odysseus rebuked him and pointed out the folly of such council. Agamemnon said, "Someone, it may be, old or 
young, can offer us better counsel which I shall rejoice to hear." Wise Diomedes said, "Such a one is at hand; he is 
not far to seek, if you will listen to me and not resent my speaking though I am younger than any of you ... I say, 
then, let us go to the fight as we needs must, wounded though we be. When there, we may keep out of the battle and 
beyond the range of the spears lest we get fresh wounds in addition to what we have already, but we can spur on 
others, who have been indulging their spleen and holding aloof from battle hitherto." This council was approved by 

Book XXIII- In the funeral games of Patroclus, Diomedes (though wounded) won all the games he played. First, he 
participated in the chariot race where he had to take the last place in the starting-line (chosen by casting lots). 
Diomedes owned the fastest horses after Achilles (who did not participate). A warrior named Eumelus took the lead 
and Diomedes could have overtaken him easily but Apollo (who had a grudge against him) made him drop the whip. 
Beholding this trick played by the sun-god, Athena reacted with great anger. She not only gave the whip back to the 
son of Tydeus but also put fresh strength to his horses and went after Eumelus to break his yoke. Poor Eumelus was 
thrown down and his elbows, mouth, and nostrils were all torn. Antilochus told his horses that there is no point 
trying to overtake Diomedes for Athena wishes his victory. Diomedes won the first prize — "a woman skilled in all 
useful arts, and a three-legged cauldron". 

Next, he fought with great Ajax in an armed sparring contest where the winner was to draw blood first. Ajax 
attacked Diomedes where his armour covered his body and achieved no success. Ajax owned the biggest armour and 
the tallest shield which covered most of his body leaving only two places vulnerable; his neck and armpits. So, 
Diomedes maneuvered his spear above Ajax's shield and attacked his neck, drawing blood. The Achaean leaders 
were scared that another such blow would kill Ajax and they stopped the fight. Diomedes received the prize for the 
victor. This is the final appearance of Diomedes in the epic. 

It is seen that although Diomedes received Athena's help without asking for it, Odysseus prayed for help even before 
the start of the footrace he participated. 

It is generally accepted that Athena is closest to Diomedes in the epic. In the early traditions, Athena (a virgin 
goddess) is described as being shy in the company of males. But she spoke to the hero without any disguise in Book 
V where he could see her in the true divine form (a special vision was granted to him). Such an incident doesn't 
happen even in the other Homeric Epic, The Odyssey where Athena disguises herself while speaking to Odysseus. 

Diomedes 327 


Penthesileia led a small army of Amazons to Troy on the last year of the Trojan War. Two of her warriors named 
Alcibie and Derimacheia were slain by Diomedes. 

A dispute with Achilles 

Penthesileia killed many Greeks in battle. She was, however, no match for Achilles, who killed her. When Achilles 
stripped Penthesileia of her armour, he saw that the woman was young and very beautiful, and seemingly falls madly 
in love with her. Achilles then regrets killing her. Thersites mocked Achilles for his behaviour, because the hero was 
mourning his enemy. Enraged, Achilles killed Thersites with a single blow to his face. 

Thersites was so quarrelsome and abusive in character, that only his cousin, Diomedes, mourned for him. Diomedes 
wanted to avenge Thersites, but the other leaders persuaded the two mightiest Achaean warriors against fighting 
among themselves. Hearkening to prayers of comrades, the two heroes reconciled at last. According to Quintus 
Smyrnaeus, the Greek leaders agreed to the boon of returning her body to the Trojans for her funeral pyre. According 
to some other sources, Diomedes angrily tossed Penthesileia's body into the river, so neither side could give her 
decent burial. 

Achilles' funeral games 

After Achilles' death, the Achaeans piled him a mound and held magnificent games in his honor. According to 
Apollodorus, Diomedes won the footrace. Smyrnaeus says that the wrestling match between him and Ajax the Great 
came to a draw. 


As Troy could not be taken regardless of the efforts that were made, ever new conditions were added by the seers as 
to what was necessary to do in order to take the city. So, in the same way as before it had been declared that Troy 
could not be taken without Achilles, now it was prophesied that Troy could not be taken if Neoptolemus (Achilles's 
son) would not come and fight. According to Quintus Smyrnaeus, Odysseus and Diomedes came to Scyros to bring 
him to the war at Troy. According to the Epic Cycle, Odysseus and Phoenix did this. 

Another Prophecy 

The Greek seer named Calchas prophesied that Philoctetes (whom the Greeks had abandoned on the island of 
Lemnos due to the vile odour from snakebite) and the bow of Heracles are needed to take Troy. Philoctetes hated 
Odysseus, Agamemnon and Menelaus, because they were responsible for leaving him behind. 

Diomedes and Odysseus were charged with achieving this prophecy also. Knowing that Philoctetes would never 
agree to come with them, they sailed to the island and stole the bow of Heracles by a trick. Heracles (now a god) or 
Athena later persuaded Philoctetes to join the Achaeans again. This bow and arrows were used by Philoctetes (who 
came with Diomedes and Odysseus to Troy) to slay Paris; this was a requirement to the fall of Troy. 

According to some, Diomedes and Odysseus were sent into the city of Troy to negotiate for peace after the death of 



The Palladium 

After Paris' death, Helenus left the city but was captured by Odysseus. 
The Greeks somehow managed to persuade the seer/warrior to reveal 
the weakness of Troy. The Greeks learnt from Helenus, that Troy 
would not fall, while the Palladium, image or statue of Athena, 
remained within Troy's walls. The difficult task of stealing this sacred 
statue again fell upon the shoulders of Odysseus and Diomedes. 

Diomedes with The Palladium- Johan Tobias 
Sergei, Konstakademin, Stockholm. 

Odysseus, some say, went by night to Troy, and leaving Diomedes 
waiting, disguised himself and entered the city as a beggar. There he 
was recognized by Helen, who told him where the Palladium was. 
Diomedes then climbed the wall of Troy and entered the city. 
Together, the two friends killed several guards and one or more priests 
of Athena's temple and stole the Palladium "with their bloodstained 
hands". Diomedes is generally regarded as the person who 
physically removed the Palladium and carried it away to the ships. 
There are several statues and many ancient drawings of him with the 

Diomedes with the Palladium approaches an altar 



Diomedes and Odysseus stealing the Palladium 

According to the Little Iliad, on the way to the ships, Odysseus plotted 
to kill Diomedes and claim the Palladium (or perhaps the credit for 
gaining it) for himself. He raised his sword to stab Diomedes in the 
back. Diomedes was alerted to the danger by glimpsing the gleam of 
the sword in the moonlight. He turned round, seized the sword of 
Odysseus, tied his hands, and drove him along in front, beating his 
back with the flat of his sword. From this action was said to have 
arisen the Greek proverbial expression "Diomedes' necessity", applied 
to those who act under compulsion. (The incident was commemorated 
in 1842 by the French sculptor Pierre- Jules Cavelier in a muscle-bound 
plaster statue). Because Odysseus was essential for the destruction of 
Troy, Diomedes refrained from punishing him. 

Diomedes took the Palladium with him when he left Troy. According 
to some, he brought it to Argos where it remained until Ergiaeus, one 
of his descendants, took it away with the assistance of the Laconian 
Leagrus, who conveyed it to Sparta. Others say that he brought it to 
Italy. Some say that Diomedes was robbed of the palladium by 
Demophon in Attica, where he landed one night on his return from 
Troy, without knowing where he was. According to another 
tradition, the Palladium failed to bring Diomedes any luck due to the 
unrighteous way he obtained it. He was informed by an oracle, that he 
should be exposed to unceasing sufferings unless he restored the sacred 
image to the Trojans. Therefore he gave it back to his enemy, 

Diomedes with The Palladium-Glyptothek 



Stealing the Palladium after killing the priests was viewed as the greatest transgression committed by Diomedes and 
Odysseus by Trojans. Odysseus used this sentiment to his advantage when he invented the Trojan Horse stratagem. 

Diomedes 330 

The Wooden Horse 

This stratagem invented by Odysseus made it possible to take the city. Diomedes was one of the warriors inside. He 
slew many Trojan warriors inside the city. 

According to Quintus Smyrnaeus, while slaughtering countless Trojans, Diomedes met an elderly man named 
Ilioneus who begged for mercy. Despite his fury of war, Diomedes held back his sword so that the old man might 
speak. Ilioneus begged "Oh compassionate my suppliant hands! To slay the young and valiant is a glorious thing; but 
if you smite an old man, small renown waits on your prowess. Therefore turn from me your hands against young 
men, if you hope ever to come to grey hairs such as mine." Firmly resolved in his purpose, Diomedes answered. "Old 
man, I look to attain to honored age; but while my Strength yet exists, not a single foe will escape me with life. The 
brave man makes an end of every foe." Having said this, Diomedes slew Ilioneus. 

Some of the other Trojan warriors slain by Diomedes during that night were Coroebus (who came to Troy to win the 
hand of Cassandra), Eurydamas and Eurycoon. 


After the fall of Troy 

During the sacking and looting of the great city, the seeress Cassandra, daughter of Priam and Hecuba, clung to the 
statue of Athena, but the Lesser Ajax raped her. Odysseus, unsuccessfully, tried to persuade the Greek leaders to put 
Ajax to death, by stoning the Locrian leader (to divert the goddess's anger). Diomedes and other Greek leaders 
disagreed because Ajax himself clung to the same statue of Athena in order to save himself. The failure of Greek 
leaders to punish Ajax the lesser for the sacrilege of Athena's altar resulted in earning her wrath. However, she did 
not punish Diomedes. 

Athena caused a quarrel between Agamemnon and Menelaus about the voyage from Troy. Agamemnon then stayed 
on to appease the anger of Athena. Diomedes and Nestor held a discussion about the situation and decided to leave 
immediately. They took their vast armies and left Troy. They managed to reach home safely but Athena called upon 
Poseidon to bring a violent storm upon most of other Greek ships. 

The Palamedes affair haunted several Greek Leaders including Diomedes. Palamedes's brother Oeax went to Argos 
and reported to Aegialia, falsely or not, that her husband was bringing a woman he preferred to his wife. Others say 
that Aegialia herself had taken a lover, Cometes (son of Sthenelus), being persuaded to do so by Palamedes's father 
Nauplius. Still others say that despite Diomedes's noble treatment of her son Aeneas, Aphrodite never managed to 
forget about the Argive spear that had once pierced her flesh in the fields of Troy. She helped Aegialia to obtain, not 
one but many lovers. (According to different traditions, Aegialeia was living in adultery with Hippolytus, Cometes 
or Cyllabarus.) 

In any case Aegialia, being helped by the Argives, prevented Diomedes from entering the city. Or else, if he ever 
entered Argos, he had to take sanctuary at the altar of Hera, and thence flee with his companions by night. 
Cometes was shortly the king of Argos, in Diomedes' absence, but was quickly replaced by the rightful heir, 
Cyanippus, who was the son of Aegialeus. 

Diomedes 331 

Life in Italy 

Diomedes then migrated to Aetolia, and thence to Daunia (Apulia) in Italy. He went to the court of King Daunus, 
King of the Daunians. The king was honored to accept the great warrior. He begged Diomedes for help in warring 
against the Messapians, for a share of the land and marriage to his daughter. Diomedes agreed the proposal, drew up 
his men and routed the Messapians. He took his land which he assigned to the Dorians, his followers. 

Diomedes later married Daunus's daughter Euippe and had two sons named Diomedes and Amphinomus. Some say 
that, after the sack of Troy, Diomedes came to Libya (due to a storm), where he was put in prison by King Lycus 
(who planned on sacrificing him to Ares). It is said that it was the king's daughter Callirrhoe, who loosing Diomedes 
from his bonds, saved him. Diomedes is said to have thanklessly sailed away, and the girl killed herself with a 
halter. [11] 

Cities founded by Diomedes 

He founded about ten Italian cities (in the eastern part of Italy) including Argyrippa (Arpi/Arpus Hippium/Argos 

Hippion), Aequum Tuticum, Beneventum and Brundusium. Also Canusium, Venafrum, Salapia, Spina, Garganum, 

Sipus (near Santa Maria di Siponto) were said to have been founded by him. 

Some say that he named a city as "Venusia" (or Aphrodisia) after Venus (Aphrodite) as a peace-offering. When war 
broke out between Aeneas and Turnus, Turnus tried to persuade Diomedes to aid them in the war against the 
Trojans. Diomedes told them he had fought enough Trojans in his lifetime, and urged Turnus that it was best to make 


peace with Aeneas than to fight the Trojans. He also said that his purpose in Italy is to live in peace. Virgil's 
Aeneid describes the beauty and prosperity of Diomedes' kingdom. 

The worship and service of gods and heroes was spread by Diomedes far and wide : in and near Argos he caused 


temples of Athena to be built. His armour was preserved in a temple of Athena at Luceria in Apulia, and a gold 
chain of his was shown in a temple of Artemis in Peucetia. At Troezene he had founded a temple of Apollo 
Epibaterius, and instituted the Pythian games there. 

Other sources claim that Diomedes had one more meeting with his old enemy Aeneas where he gave the Palladium 
back to the Trojans. 


Neither Homer nor Virgil gives the reader any foreshadowing of Diomedes's death except for a passage in the Iliad 
in which Dione, Aphrodite's mother, comforts the goddess of love (after she has been injured by Diomedes), telling 
her daughter that "the man who fights the gods does not live long" and will not be welcomed home from war by his 
children on his lap (5.407-409). 

End of Diomedes in Italy 

He lived a long life but there is no clear record as to how he died. Some claims that he was buried or mysteriously 
disappeared on one of the islands in the Adriatic called after him (Diomedeae). Others say that he did not have to 
face a mortal death. 

Legend has it that, on his death, the albatrosses got together and sang a song (their normal call). This is where the 
family name for albatrosses comes from (Diomedeae). 

Diomedes 332 


According to the post Homeric stories, Diomedes was given immortality by Athena, which she had not given to his 
father. Pindar says that Diomedes became a minor god in southern Italy or the Adriatic. He was worshipped as a 
divine being under various names in Italy where Statues of him existed at Argyripa, Metapontum, Thurii, and other 

There are traces in Greece also of the worship of Diomedes. Greek sources say that he was placed among the gods 
together with the Dioscuri. 

Diomedes was worshipped as a hero not only in Greece, but on the coast of the Adriatic, as at Thurii and 
Metapontum. At Argos, his native place, during the festival of Athena, his shield was carried through the streets as a 
relic, together with the Palladium, and his statue was washed in the river Inachus. 

In the Divine Comedy poem Inferno, Dante Alighieri sees Diomedes in the Eighth Circle of Hell, where deceivers 
are imprisoned for eternity in a sheet of flame. His deceits include those used to steal the Palladium and king Rhesus' 
horses. The same damnation is imposed on Odysseus, who is also punished for having persuaded Achilles to fight in 
the Trojan war, without telling him that this would lead to his inevitable death. Diomedes and Odysseus are also here 
for their part in the Trojan Horse. 

The Troilus and Cressida legend 

Diomedes plays an important role in the medieval legend of Troilus and Cressida, in which he becomes the girl's 
new lover when she is sent to the Greek camp to join her traitorous father. In Shakespeare's play of that title, 
Diomedes is often seen fighting Troilus over her. 


[I] Diet. Cret. ii. 15 ; comp. Paus. x. 31. § 1. 
[2] Tzetz. ad Lycoph. 993 ; Diet. Cret. iv. 3. 
[3] Diet. Cret. v. 4 

[4] Virg. Aen. ii. 163 

[5] Eustath. ad Horn. p. 822. 

[6] Plut. Quaest. Graec. 48. 

[7] Paus. ii. 28. § 9. 

[8] Serv. ad Aen. ii. 166, iii. 407, iv, 427, v. 81. 

[9] Dictys Cretensis 6. 2; Tzetzes on Lycophron 609; Servius on Aeneid 8. 9. 

[10] Tzetzes on Lycophron 602 

[II] Plut. Parall. Gr. et Rom. 23. 

[12] Serv. ad Aen viii. 9, xi. 246; Strab. vi. pp. 283, 284; Plin. H. N. iii. 20; Justin, xii. 2. 

[13] Paus. i. 11; Serv. ad Aen. viii. 9. 

[14] Plut. de Flum. 18; Paus. ii. 24. § 2 

[15] Schol. ad Pind. Nem. x. 12 ; Scylax, Peripl. p. 6; comp. Strab. v. p. 214, &c. 

External links 

• Greek Mythology Link ( 

• Greek Mythology Index (http://www.mythindex.eom/greek-mythology/D/Diomedes.html) 




This article is about Teucer, son of King Telamon of Salamis. For Teucer, son of Scamander and Idaea, see 
King Teucer. 

In Greek mythology Teucer, also Teucrus or Teucris (Greek: 
TEUKpot;, Teukros), was the son of King Telamon of Salamis Island 
and his second wife Hesione, daughter of King Laomedon of Troy. He 
fought alongside his half-brother, Ajax, in the Trojan War and is the 
legendary founder of the city of Salamis on Cyprus. Through his 
mother, Teucer was the nephew of King Priam of Troy and the cousin 
of Hector and Paris - all of whom he fought against in the Trojan War. 


During the Trojan War, Teucer was mainly a great archer, who loosed 
his shafts from behind the giant shield of his half-brother Ajax the 
Great. When Hector was driving the Achaeans back toward their ships, 
Teucer gave the Argives some success by killing many of the charging 
Trojans, including Hector's charioteer, Archeptolemus son of Iphitos. 
However, every time he shot an arrow at Hector, Apollo, the protector 
of the Trojans, would foil the shot - an ironic reference to the fact that 
Apollo would guide Paris' arrow into Achilles' heel. At one point in 
his rage at Teucer's success, Hector picked up a huge rock and flung it at him. The rock injured Teucer, so that he 

retired from the fighting for a certain period of time . He took up a spear to fight in the war after his bow was 

broken by Zeus . He once again challenged Hector, and narrowly avoided the path of Hector's flying javelin in the 

ensuing battle. He was also one of the Danaans to enter the Trojan Horse. In total, Teucer slew thirty Trojans during 

the war ; of those Homer mentions Aretaon, Orsilochus, Ormenus, Ophelestes, Daetor, Chromius, Lycophontes, 

Amopaon, Melanippus, Prothoon and Periphetes , as well as the aforementioned Archeptolemus. He also wounded 

Statue of Teucer by Sir William Hamo 

Glaucus, son of Hippolochus 


After Ajax's suicide, Teucer guarded the body to make sure it was buried, insulting Menelaus and Agamemnon when 


they tried to stop the burial. Finally Odysseus persuaded Agamemnon to let the burial happen. Because of his 
half-brother's suicide, Teucer stood trial before his father, where he was found guilty of negligence for not bringing 
his dead half-brother's body or his arms back with him. He was disowned by his father, wasn't allowed back on 
Salamis Island, and set out to find a new home. His departing words were immortalised in the seventh ode of the 
Roman poet Horace, in which he exhorts his companions to "nil desperandum" ', "despair in no way", and announces 
"eras ingens iterabimus aequor", "tomorrow we shall set out upon the vast ocean". This speech has been given a 
wider applicability in relation to the theme of voyages of discovery, also found in the Ulysses of Dante and 

Teucer eventually joined King Belus II in his campaign against Cyprus, and when the island was seized, Belus 
handed it over to him in reward for his assistance. Teucer founded the city of Salamis on Cyprus, which he named 
after his home state . He further married Eune, daughter of Cyprus or Cinyras, and had by her a daughter Asteria . 

The name Teucer is believed to be related to the name of the West Hittite God Tarku (East Hittite Teshub) — the 

Indo-European Storm God — a role which explains his relationship to Belus, who is the Semitic storm god Baal 


Local legends of the city of Pontevedra (Galicia) relate the foundation of this city to Teucer (Teucro), although this 
seems to be based more on the suspicions that Greek traders might have arrived to that area in ancient times 

Teucer 334 

hence introducing a number of Greek stories - and not historical facts. The city is sometimes poetically called "The 
City of Teucer" and its inhabitants teucrinos. A number of sporting clubs in the municipality use names related to 


[I] Homer, Iliad, 8. 265 ff; 12. 329 ff, 364 ff; 15. 442 ff, 478 ff 
[2] //. 8. 320 - 330 

[3] II. 15. 460 - 480 

[4] Hyginus, Fabulae 114. 

[5] II. 6. 30; 8. 274 ff; 14.515 

[6] //. 12. 387 

[7] Ajax (Sophocles) 

[8] Servius on Aeneid, 1. 619 - 621 

[9] Tzetzes on Lycophron, 450; Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1. 3. 2 

[10] Farnell "Greece and Babylon: A Comparative History of Greek, Anatolian and Mesopotamian Religion." 

[II] Ireland in Galicia (http://193. 147.33.52/amergin/index.php?page=ireland-in-galicia), by the Amergin University Institute of Research 
in Irish Studies (http://193.147. 33. 52/amergin/index.php?page=what-is-amergin), University of A Corufia. Access date 01-10-2010 

• Euripides, Euripides II: The Cyclops and Heracles, Iphigenia in Tauris, Helen (The Complete Greek Tragedies) 
(Vol 4), University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (April 15, 2002). ISBN 978-0-226-30781-7. 


Creatures Families 

Dragons in Greek mythology 

Dragons play a role in Greek mythology. 


Ladon was the serpent-like dragon that twined round the tree in the Garden of the Hesperides and guarded the golden 
apples. Ladon was also said to have as many as one hundred heads. He was overcome and possibly slain by 
Heracles. After a few years, the Argonauts passed by the same spot, on their chthonic return journey from Colchis at 
the opposite end of the world, and heard the lament of "shining" Aigle, one of the Hesperides, and viewed the 
still-twitching Ladon {Argonautica, book iv). The creature is associated with the constellation Draco. Ladon was 
given several parentages, each of which placed him at an archaic level in Greek myth: the offspring of "Ceto, joined 
in love with Phorcys" (Hesiod, Theogony 333) or of Typhon, who was himself serpent-like from the waist down, and 
Echidna {Bibliotheke 2.113; Hyginus, Preface to Fabulae) or of Gaia herself, or in her Olympian manifestation, 
Hera: "The Dragon which guarded the golden apples was the brother of the Nemean lion" asserted Ptolemy 
Hephaestion (recorded in his New History V, lost but epitomized in Photius, Myriobiblion 190). 

Lernaean Hydra 

The Lernaean Hydra was a dragon-like water serpent with fatally venomous breath, blood and fangs, a daughter of 
Typhon and Echidna. The creature was said to have anywhere between five and 100 heads, although most sources 
put the number somewhere between seven and nine. For each head cut off, one or two more grew back in its place. It 
had an immortal head which would remain alive after it was cut off. Some accounts claim that the immortal head 
was made of gold. It lived in a swamp near Lerna and frequently terrorized the townsfolk until it was slain by 
Heracles, who cut the heads off, with the help of his nephew Iolaus, who then singed the oozing stump with a 
blazing firebrand to prevent any new heads from growing, as the second of his Twelve Labors. Hera sent a giant crab 
to distract Heracles, but he simply crushed it under his foot. Hera then placed it in the heavens as the constellation 
Cancer. After slaying the serpent, Heracles buried the immortal head under a rock and dipped his arrows in the 
creature's blood to make them fatal to his enemies. In one version, the poisoned arrows would eventually prove to be 
the undoing of his centaur tutor Chiron, who was placed in the heavens as the constellation Centaurus. 

Pytho or Python 

In Greek mythology Python was the earth-dragon of Delphi, always represented in the vase-paintings and by 
sculptors as a serpent. Various myths represented Python as being either male or female (a drakaina). Python was 
the chthonic enemy of Apollo, who slew it and remade its former home his own oracle, the most famous in Greece. 

There are various versions of Python's birth and death at the hands of Apollo. In the earliest, the Homeric Hymn to 
Apollo, little detail is given about Apollo's combat with the serpent or its parentage. The version related by Hyginus 
[1] holds that when Zeus lay with the goddess Leto, and she was to deliver Artemis and Apollo, Hera sent Python to 
pursue her throughout the lands, so that she could not be delivered wherever the sun shone. Thus when the infant 
was grown he pursued the python, making his way straight for Mount Parnassus where the serpent dwelled, and 
chased it to the oracle of Gaia at Delphi, and dared to penetrate the sacred precinct and kill it with his arrows beside 
the rock cleft where the priestess sat on her tripod. The priestess of the oracle at Delphi became known as the Pythia, 

Dragons in Greek mythology 336 

after the place-name Pytho, which was named after the rotting (jtuSelv) of the serpent's corpse after it was slain. 

The Colchian Dragon 

(Georgian: jmc^b'^o rjof?>,s,jm6o) This immense serpent, a child of Typhon and Echidna, guarded the Golden Fleece 

at Colchis. It was said to never sleep, rest, or lower its vigilance. According to Ovid's Metamorphoses, the monster 

had a crest and three tongues. When Jason went to retrieve the Fleece, the witch Medea put the dragon to sleep 

with her magic and drugs, or perhaps Orpheus lulled it to sleep with his lyre. Afterwards, Medea herself had 

dragons pull her chariot. 

The Ismenian Dragon 

The Ismenian Dragon, of the spring of Ismene at Thebes, Greece, was slain by the hero Cadmus. It was the 
offspring of Ares, who later turned the hero into a serpent. 


[1] "Python at" ( 

[2] "A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology" (http://books. google. com/books ?id=ok4pAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA280& 

dq=jason+argonauts&as_brr=4#v=onepage&q=jason argonauts&f=false) 
[3] Morford, Mark; Robert Lenardon (2003). Classical Mythology (7 ed.). New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 581. 
[4] "Colchian Dragon at" ( 
[5] Drakon Ismenios (; excerpts of Greek myth in translation. 

External links 

• Theoi Project - Drakon Hesperios ( 




In Greek mythology, the Gorgon (plural: Gorgons) (Greek: ropycov 
or ropyco GorgonlGorgo) was a terrifying female creature. The name 
derives from the Greek word gorgos, which means "dreadful." While 
descriptions of Gorgons vary across Greek literature, the term 
commonly refers to any of three sisters who had hair of living, 
venomous snakes, and a horrifying visage that turned those who beheld 
it to stone. Traditionally, while two of the Gorgons were immortal, 
Stheno and Euryale, their sister Medusa was not, and was slain by the 
mythical demigod and hero Perseus. 

Gorgons were a popular image of Greek mythology, appearing in the 
earliest of written records of Ancient Greek religious beliefs such as 
those of Homer. Because of their legendary gaze, images of the 
Gorgons were put upon objects and buildings for protection. For 
example, an image of a Gorgon holds the primary location at the 
pediment of the temple at Corfu. It is the oldest stone pediment in 
Greece and is dated to c. 600 BC. 

A Gorgon head on the outside of each of the 

Vix-krater's three handles. From the grave of the 

Celtic Lady of Vix, 510 BC 


Minoan gold ring of Mochlos, 1600-1500 BC. A 

sea-goddess with a monstrous head in a boat. Heraklion 

Archaeological Museum 

The concept of the Gorgon is at least as old in mythology as 
Perseus and Zeus. The name is Greek, being derived from 
"gorgos" and translating as terrible or dreadful. 

Author Marija Gimbutas {Language of the Goddess) believed 
she saw the prototype of the Gorgoneion in Neolithic art 
motifs, especially in anthropomorphic vases and terracotta 
masks inlaid with gold. 

A female figure, probably a sea-goddess is depicted on a 
Minoan gold ring from the island Mochlos in Crete. The 
goddess has a monstrous head, and she is sitting in a boat. A 
holy tree is depicted, probably related with the Minoan cult of 
the tree. [1] 

The large eyes, as well as Athena's "flashing" eyes, are symbols termed "the divine eyes" by Gimbutas (who did not 
originate the perception), appearing also in Athena's bird, the owl. They can be represented by spirals, wheels, 
concentric circles, swastikas, firewheels, and other images. 

The fangs of the Gorgons are wild boar tusks, while some representations lack fangs and show a forced smile 


displaying large teeth and sometimes a protruding tongue .In some cruder representations , blood flowing under 
the head of the Gorgon has been mistaken for a beard or wings. 

Some reptilian attributes such as a belt made of snakes and snakes emanating from the head or entwined in the hair 
as in the temple of Artemis in Corfu, are symbols likely derived from the guardians closely associated with early 



Greek religious concepts at the centers of oracles. It's skin was said to be made of impenetrable scales 

Other possible origins have been suggested from similarities of the Babylonian creature Humbaba in the Gilgamesh 

Classical tradition 

An archaic Gorgon (around 580 BC), as depicted on a 

pediment from the temple of Artemis in Corfu, on 

display at the Archaeological Museum of Corfu 

First century BC mosaic of Alexander the Great 

bearing on his armor an image of the Gorgon as an 

aegis - Naples National Archaeological Museum 

Gorgons are often depicted as having wings , brazen claws, the 
tusks of boars and scaly skin . The oldest oracles were said to be 
protected by serpents and a Gorgon image was often associated 
with those temples. Lionesses or sphinxes are frequently 
associated with the Gorgon as well. The powerful image of the 
Gorgon was adopted for the classical images and myths of Zeus 
and Athena, perhaps being worn in continuation of a more ancient 
imagery. The Gorgons were said to be the daughters of the sea god 
Phorcys and his sister-wife, Ceto the sea monster. Homer, the 
author of the oldest known work of European literature, speaks 
only of one Gorgon, whose head is represented in the Iliad as fixed 
in the centre of the aegis of Zeus: 

"About her shoulders she flung the tasselled aegis, fraught 
with terror. ..and therein is the head of the dread monster, 
the Gorgon, dread and awful, a portent of Zeus that beareth 
the aegis. "(5.735ff) 

Its earthly counterpart is a device on the shield of Agamemnon: 

"...and therein was set as a crown the Gorgon, grim of 
aspect, glaring terribly, and about her were Terror and 



Athena wears the ancient form of the Gorgon head on 

her aegis, as the huge serpent who guards the golden 

fleece regurgitates Jason; cup by Douris, Classical 

Greece, early fifth century BC — Vatican Museum 

_ ♦ i 



Wf ,Vfc 











Gorgon Medusa 200 AD (Romano-Germanic 
Museum in Cologne) 

The date of Homer was controversial in antiquity, and is no less so 

today. Herodotus said that Homer lived 400 years before his own day, 

which would place Homer about 850 BC; but other ancient sources 

gave dates much closer to the Trojan War. Those who believe that 

the stories of the Trojan War derive from a specific historical conflict 

usually date it to the twelfth or eleventh centuries BC, often preferring 

the dates given by Eratosthenes, 1194—1184 BC, which roughly 

corresponds with archaeological evidence of a catastrophic burning of 

Troy Vila. For modern scholarship, 'the date of Homer' refers to the 

date of the poems as much as to the lifetime of an individual. 

The scholarly consensus is that "the Iliad and the Odyssey date from 

the extreme end of the ninth century BC or from the eighth, the Iliad 

being anterior to the Odyssey, perhaps by some decades." They are 

presumed to have existed as an oral tradition that eventually became 

set in historical records. Even at that early time the Gorgon is displayed as a vestige of ancient powers that preceded 

the historical transition to the beliefs of the Classical Greeks, displayed on the chest of Athene and Zeus. 

In the Odyssey, the Gorgon is a monster of the underworld to which the earliest deities were cast: 

"...and pale fear seized me, lest august Persephone might send forth upon me from out of the house of Hades 
the head of the Gorgon, that awful monster... "(1 1.635) 

Around 700 BC, Hesiod (Theogony, Shield of Heracles) increases the number of Gorgons to three — Stheno (the 
mighty), Euryale (the far-springer), and Medusa (the queen), and makes them the daughters of the sea-god Phorcys 
and of Keto. Their home is on the farthest side of the western ocean; according to later authorities, in Libya. Ancient 
Libya is identified as a possible source of the deity, Neith, who was called Athene in Greece. 

The Attic tradition, reproduced in Euripides (Ion), regarded the Gorgon as a monster, produced by Gaia to aid her 
children, the Titans, against the new Olympian deities and she was slain by Athena, who wore her skin thereafter. Of 
the three Gorgons, only Medusa is mortal. 



The Bibliotheca (2.2.6, 2.4.1, 2.4.2) provides a good summary 
of the Gorgon myth. Much later stories claim that each of 
three Gorgon sisters, Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa, had 
snakes for hair, and that they had the power to turn anyone 
who looked at them to stone. 

According to Ovid {Metamorphoses), a Roman poet writing in 
8 AD who was noted for accuracy regarding the Greek myths, 
Medusa alone had serpents in her hair, and that this was due to 
Athena (Roman Minerva) cursing her. Medusa had copulated 
with Poseidon (Roman Neptune) in a temple of Athena after 
he was aroused by the golden color of Medusa's hair. Athena 
therefore changed the enticing golden locks into serpents. 
Diodorus and Palaephatus mention that the Gorgons lived in 
the Gorgades, islands in the Aethiopian Sea. The main island 
was called Cerna and, according to Henry T. Riley, these 

islands may correspond to Cape Verde 


Winged goddess with a Gorgon's head. Orientalizing plate, 
ca. 600 BC, from Kameiros, Rhodes 

It is mentioned that the Gorgons lived in the entrance of the Underworld in the Aenid. 

Pausanias (5.10.4, 8.47.5, many other places), a geographer of the second century A.D., supplies the details of where 
and how the Gorgons were represented in Greek art and architecture. 

Perseus and Medusa 

Perseus killing Medusa, from the temple C 

at Selinus. Archaeological Museum of 


In later myths, Medusa was the only one of the three Gorgons who was not 
immortal. King Polydectes sent Perseus to kill Medusa in hopes of getting 
him out of the way, while he pursued Perseus's mother, Danae. 

Some authors say that Perseus was armed with a scythe from Hermes 
(Roman equivalent Mercury) and a mirror (or a shield) from Athena. 
Perseus could safely cut off Medusa's head without turning to stone by 
looking only at her reflection in the shield. From the blood that spurted 
from her neck and jumping into the sea sprang Pegasus and Chrysaor, her 
sons by Poseidon. Other sources say that each drop of blo